Login  |   Register
On Now
Coming Up
  • Tue., Feb. 28, 2017 12:00 AM MST Combine Timing and Testing The Combine begins in Indianapolis and runs through March 6.
  • Wed., Mar. 01, 2017 2:00 PM MST Deadline to designate Francise or Transition Players Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
  • Tue., Mar. 07, 2017 12:00 AM MST Teams may negotiate with their own Unrestricted Free Agents

    During the period beginning at 12 noon, New York time, on March 7th and ending at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 9th, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2016 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9.

    During the above two-day negotiating period, no direct contact is permitted between a prospective unrestricted free agent and any employee or representative of a club, other than the player’s current club.

  • Thu., Mar. 09, 2017 12:00 AM MST 2017 League Year and Free Agency begin

    The 2017 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.

    The first day of the 2017 League Year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 9. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the League office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 9.

    Trading period for 2017 begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time, after expiration of all 2016 contracts.

  • Sun., Mar. 26, 2017 12:00 AM MDT Annual League Meeting Annual League Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Mon., Apr. 03, 2017 12:00 AM MDT Clubs with new head coaches may begin offseason workouts Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2016 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
  • Fri., Apr. 21, 2017 12:00 AM MDT Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
  • Wed., Apr. 26, 2017 12:00 AM MDT Deadline for prior club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents. Deadline for prior club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.
  • Thu., Apr. 27, 2017 12:00 AM MDT 2017 NFL Draft The 2017 NFL Draft begins in Philadelphia and runs through April 29.
Print
RSS

Five to Watch: 2. Aqib Talib

Posted Jan 15, 2014

Independent analyst Andrew Mason continues his look at five key players in Sunday's AFC Championship Game with Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This week, independent analyst Andrew Mason will take a closer look at five players to watch in this Sunday's AFC Championship Game. Second on the list: Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos and Patriots share more than just a ticket to the AFC Championship Game and the presence of future Hall of Famers at quarterback. Their defenses share the same problem: they've been reshuffled beyond recognition because of injuries, particularly in the front seven.

The issues have been less pressing on the back end, where safety Devin McCourty has started 17 times this season, including the playoffs, and cornerback Aqib Talib has made 14 starts. But Talib missed three games with a hip injury that appeared to affect him upon his return, and is only now returning to his full capabilities.

How the Patriots use Talib will be crucial to Sunday's game. He frequently dueled with Demaryius Thomas, and between tight coverage and the gale-force winds, Thomas was limited to a season-low 41 yards on four receptions.

The Week 12 game was Talib's second after returning from the hip injury. Six days earlier, the Panthers had targeted Talib frequently, and beaten him for six receptions covering 95 yards. The Broncos weren't quite as successful, but the game-tying 11-yard touchdown came at Talib's expense, when Thomas used his hands to get separation from the physical cornerback, providing enough space to grab the pass.

Talib's asset his his size and speed: at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, he's the only Patriots cornerback who has the physical characteristics to match up with Thomas. Talib's work on that touchdown was typical of his style; he will try to get his hands up and inside the receiver near the line of scrimmage, and relies upon disrupting the receiver's timing of his route enough to take that option out of the play.

But Talib's role turned out to be much more than just playing cornerback. Without him, LeGarrette Blount might not be in a Patriots uniform. Both are ex-Buccaneers, and when the Patriots had a chance to trade for Blount during the 2013 draft, head coach Bill Belichick sought Talib's counsel.

"One of the things that was very influential to me was Aqib’s evaluation of LeGarrette as a person, as a teammate, as a competitive football player and his skill set," said Belichick. "When you have a guy who is with another player day after day, year after year, competing against him on the field and he gives you an honest evaluation and you trust that player and his evaluation, who knows better than him?"

It's a long way from Talib's days with Tampa Bay, when massive potential was undone by legal entanglements and, finally, a suspension for a violation of the NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Talib has cleaned up his act in New England, and cleaned up the Patriots defense, helping prevent it from collapse in the wake of its myriad injuries.