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BOSTON (CBS) – The Aqib Talib era is about to begin for the New England Patriots.
Talib, acquired from Tampa Bay two weeks ago, has finished serving his four-game suspension and was welcomed into Gillette Stadium on Monday. The corner is expected to take the field with his new team for the first time when the Patriots return to practice on Wednesday.
Head coach Bill Belichick said on his Monday conference call he has met with Talib, and the team will work with him throughout the week as he tries to learn a new defense.
“We’re not going to be on the practice field until Wednesday, so we’ll go out there Wednesday and see what it looks like. We’ll spend time with him, trying to get him caught up in terms of terminology and scheme and that type of thing,” Belichick said of his new corner. “We’ll see how all that comes together as we move through our preparations this week. I don’t really know how it will turn out.”
“It’s not about expectations or goals or landmarks. We’re in uncharted territory here,” added Belichick. “We have a new player coming on to a new team. We’re glad to have him, we’re working with him. I’m sure that he’ll work hard to try to get caught up. We’ll see where it all goes.”
Talib’s new teammates don’t know much about the five-year corner, but know he is a competitor that can make plays in on defense.
“I just know that he is a competitor and he loves the game,” said linebacker Jerod Mayo. “I’m not really sure as far as the way he plays the game, but I just know he goes out there and plays hard every day. So we’ll see what happens when he gets here.”
Mayo and Talib were both drafted in 2008, but only crossed paths a few times in the pre-draft process.
“He seemed like a cool guy and hopefully I get a chance to meet him on Wednesday,” said Mayo.
Along with a bit of a checkered past, Talib brings 19 career interceptions to the Patriots — including one in his four games this season. He will likely become the Patriots top corner if he shows he can pick up the system this week, giving the Patriots more depth in a position that has been a major concern.
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Corner/Safety Devin McCourty is glad Talib is on board, and is hoping he will make an immediate impact.
“We look forward to it. Wednesday he’ll get here and we’ll get to get out there and practice and he’ll be a part of the team, so it will be a big week for us,” said McCourty. “A big game versus the Colts, just to get another guy out there that you know is a good player, it will be exciting. We’ll have to draw some chemistry and go out there and play well this weekend.”
With Talib coming in, McCourty will likely see a lot more time at safety, but even he isn’t sure what Belichick and his staff have planned.
“Anything is kind of possible as far as guys playing different positions. Like I said after the game, I’m getting more and more comfortable at playing safety the more snaps I get,” said McCourty. “Coach is always telling me to be ready to play safety or corner, whatever the team needs me to do. Each week I think it could change; it could stay the same.”
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McCourty had a strong game at safety against the Bills on Sunday, and the addition of Talib will improve the Patriots pass-defense. His new teammates don’t think his past indiscretions will turn up against now that Talib is in New England, and he should be able to pick up the struggling system despite being thrown into the mix midway through the season.
“It’s difficult, but at the same time, if you put the work in and put the dedication into it, you can pick it up,” said Mayo.
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Colts game on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV at 4:25pm. Pregame coverage begins with WBZ-TV’s Patriots GameDay at 11:30am, with 98.5′s Patriots Preview beginning at 1pm. Following the game, stick around for three hours of postgame coverage on The Sports Hub, and Patriots 5th Quarter on MyTV38.