Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib is no stranger to trouble, but with his felony aggravated assault charges behind him, the former first-round pick is able to concentrate on just football. A smiling – and relieved – Talib talked about his past and his future.
While there has been no lack of Aqib Talib stories in the news over the last six months, the controversial cornerback had an opportunity to share his feelings locally since charges were dropped in his felony assault case in Texas last month.
Speaking to the local media for the first time since the end of the 2011 season, it was obvious Talib was more relaxed, and finally able to breath a sigh of relief.
“Well it is just … well you sleep better, you eat better you wake up with nothing to think about but football, Talib said. “Feed the kids some cereal or something then you are right back to thinking football. So you don’t have to worry about calling a lawyer, or a lawyer calling you or texting you. It’s just a clear mind. Which is always the best way.”
Talib understands the public perception of him is tarnished, and to his credit, the former Jayhawk admitted he only has himself to blame.
“It is very important (to change the perception)," Talib said. "I feel like the last two incidents were because kind of [who my name is]. But then again that is my fault. I made my name what it was. I don’t think it will be too hard to get back into the community.”
Talib has some goals left, and one of them is to become known more for his on the field play than troubling incidents off of it.
“I want to be known as a great corner,” Talib said. “A little Ronde [Barber] protégé. That’s what I want to be known as.”
Veteran Ronde Barber, who spoke to the media on Thursday said Talib’s off the field nonsense must stop, but thinks he is on the right track.
“Aqib is incredibly talented,” Barber said. “One thing about Aqib’s offseason this year – and you can ask anybody in the building, he’s been here since February – I think he’s really committed… to changing that perception about himself. I admire him for that because he’s dealt with a lot in his four or five years he’s been with us. Those can’t be issues for him anymore. We got to talk about how good of a football player he is and let all of that other stuff just die away as it should be because he is incredibly talented, and his talent should speak for itself.
Talib’s position coach, Ron Cooper, sees the change in Talib, and has been pleased with all aspects of his game.
“Talib – ever since I have been here – has done nothing but what we have asked of him,” Cooper said. “I am pleased with him right now. And he wants to be a really good defensive back – a great defensive back – and hopefully we can add to the things he already knows and give him couple of more tools to help him be the best corner he can be.
“He has great athletic ability, he has great toughness, he is very sudden. He is very smart. Very smart, probably one of the smartest DBs I have been around. He has to stay healthy (also).”
Talib went on to talk about Barber and what he brings to the Buccaneers as he embarks on his 16th season in the NFL.
“He played a lot of nickel so he doesn’t have a problem getting in the box and tackling,” Talib said. “Ronde is a ball player. He grasped it. He knows the whole playbook already. It is easy for him [to transition from corner to] safety.”
Standing in the hot sun after the first practice of training camp, Talib also commented on another teammate, first-round pick Mark Barron. For the first time in months Talib smiled, obviously relieved – and hopeful – his self-inflicted troubles are behind him.
“He is an NFL ready dude,” Talib said. “His body type is NFL ready. He came out here and killed the conditioning test being NFL ready. I mean hey, he is ready. He is serious. He is ready. Some people grow up faster than others. Man that boy is grown. He is ready.”
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