Aqib Talib had a rough offseason to say the least. From his incident in Texas earlier this year, to the uncertainty of whether he would be suspended, and then suffering minor injuries during training camp, no one on the Buccaneers roster is probably any more happy to get back to just concentrating on football.
“Since my injury last year I couldn’t wait to get back on the field,” Talib said. “I didn’t get a chance to play against Detroit last year. They are a pretty good team though. Definitely a pretty good receiver [in Calvin Johnson and] I cannot wait to go up against him.”
While judging a team’s preseason record isn’t usually an accurate gauge of a team’s talent, the Detroit Lions 4-0 record has caught the attention of Tampa Bay’s star defensive back.
“[Stafford] is looking good,” Talib said. “They're doing numbers in this preseason, and they're clicking on all cylinders and their offense and defense look real good right now. They came on at the end of last year and kind of carried to the preseason so we are expecting a pretty good team to come in September 11th.
“Turn on ESPN, NFL Network [and] a lot of people got a lot of good things to say about Detroit. We see it on tape. We are not knocking them or nothing we know they are a pretty good team. We have to bring our A game if we want to do something.”
The Detroit Lions recent draft history hasn’t been pretty in recent years with the likes of Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Stocker McDougle, Joey Harrington and several other first-round busts. But since Matt Millen’s reign mercifully ended for Detroit fans in 2008, things have looked up. Millen did hit on wide receiver Calvin Johnson in 2007 but the Lions finished the season 0-16.
In 2009 the Lions drafted Matthew Stafford as their franchise quarterback. The former Bulldog quarterback has been injured in both of his NFL seasons but Johnson continued to elevate his game even without having a lot of help from the quarterback position. Talib missed facing “Megatron” last season due to injury but looks forward to the matchup in Week 1.
“Oh yes, that is my plan,” Talib said. “That is my plan, definitely. As it gets farther on in the week [coach] Rah [Morris] will definitely let me know, but hopefully he gives me the assignment. I am looking forward to it.”
“He is one of the top guys in the league. [Calvin] Johnson, boy, [and] you got Roddy [White], Reggie [Wayne]. You cannot leave anybody out, but you know he is definitely right up there with everybody.”
“[But Calvin Johnson can] do it all, man. Slants deep, fades, jump ball - that boy can do it all.”
Talib hasn’t had any on-field playing time since last season when a hip injury landed him on injured reserve. Like most professional athletes the former Kansas star said he was ready to play, but the team held him out of any preseason action.
“I actually wanted to go in [against] Washington a little bit,” Talib said. “[Coach] Rah just told me [to] chill out until September 11. But I kind of wanted to go in just to go get that first tackle. A couple forces being released and stuff like that. I will get my work done.
“You can’t really get in football shape unless you played football, but during my rehab I have been doing a little extra conditioning and stuff.”
“I've just got to get them back. The best way to get better is repetition. Just look forward to getting out there. Like I said, ever since that injury last year I just couldn’t wait to get back on the field [and] in front of the fans. Get it cracking again. I just got to get them back. The best way to get better is repetition. Just look forward to getting out there.”
Talib’s frustration of not being able to play was a difficult thing for the former first-rounder to handle after going on injured reserve.
“Not just [watching] Calvin Johnson,” Talib said. “It's tough to watch anybody. I watched Mike Williams [and] had to watch Drew Brees. Just watching anybody [was difficult]. It's always tough to just have to watch a team go out and play.”