Foxborough, Mass. Aqib Talib wants to leave his past troubles behind. The New England Patriots hope he can do the same for their secondary.
The cornerback’s career since he was drafted in the first round out of Kansas University in 2008 has been marked by strong play and numerous off-field problems.
He’s had two NFL suspensions and a fight with a fellow Tampa Bay draftee at a rookie symposium. In May 2011, he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but that was dropped last June 18.
“What happened in the past is the past,” Talib said on Thursday. “I’m just looking forward to make the best of this opportunity and win some ballgames.”
Coach Bill Belichick traded with the Buccaneers for Talib before last Sunday’s 37-31 win over the Buffalo Bills. He had to sit that out to complete a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, which Talib said was Adderall.
Belichick was brief when asked why he felt Talib would have no such issues with the Patriots.
“Any player that we bring here, we feel confident in bringing here or we wouldn’t bring him,” he said.
Talib said his new coach didn’t discuss his off-field troubles with him.
“We kind of just talked straight football,” he said. “He didn’t bring up the past. I didn’t bring up the past. He didn’t bring up the future. I didn’t bring up the future.”
For now, Talib is focused on the daily grind of learning a new defense and practicing to be ready for Sunday’s game against Indianapolis.
The Patriots lead the AFC East with a 6-3 record and the NFL’s best offense, Their pass defense is one of the worst; only four teams have allowed more yards through the air.
“The great thing about him is he’s a great athlete,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich said of Talib. “Obviously, it’s not the easiest thing to just jump into something new, but he’s a great player so I think he’ll be all right.”
Tampa Bay took Talib out of Kansas with the 20th pick in 2008. He’s started 45 of his 58 games and has 18 interceptions, three for touchdowns.
In four games this year, he had one interception and 21 tackles.
With the recent move of starting cornerback Devin McCourty to safety, where Patrick Chung has been sidelined for three games, there’s a spot for Talib to fill.
There’s also some uncertainty for Indianapolis interim coach Bruce Arians.
“You don’t know if Patrick is going to play. You don’t know if Aqib is going to play,” he said.