Aqib Talib is coming back to town.
Talib, who was a troubled player when he was with the Bucs, is a starting corner for Denver and one of the mainstays of their secondary. He was released by the Bucs, rediscovered himself in New England, and has played well in Denver.
“At the line of scrimmage, he’s so physical,” Bucs receiver Mike Evans said. “He’s a lot like (Arizona cornerback) Patrick Peterson at the line, both really physical. I don’t think he runs as good as ‘Pat P,’ but he’s just as physical at the line of scrimmage. I’m going to try and be the most physical receiver in the league, and I’ve got to prove it by going out and dominating physical cornerbacks.”
Talib is looking forward to his return.
“This will be my first time back in Tampa since selling my house — since really leaving,” Talib said. “I got traded — of course I came back the year that I got traded, I was back and forth. But this will definitely be my first time back in Tampa since leaving.
“The biggest thing that’s changed is that I’m 30 years old now. I’m a lot older, a lot more mature, a lot more professional, I would say. It’s simply football with me, and now I’m married. So I’d say that’s the biggest thing. The biggest difference is I’m a lot older.”
The Bucs will surely test Talib. After all, quarterback Jameis Winston is throwing the ball more than 47 times per game.
“To start off, in the last two games we’ve thrown too much,” said Bucs coach Dirk Koetter. “We’ve got to quit getting behind by two scores, and we need to run the ball better and when I say run it better — I’ve told you guys this many times, we’ve got to run it more. The more you run it, the better you get with repeat runs. Now as far as Jameis handling volume, heck, I’m sure he’d throw every time if he could. But for our team to be successful, we can’t be throwing in the 50s, and we can’t be running in the 20s.”
Koetter wasn’t here when Talib was. Still, he is aware of Talib’s skills.
“He’s long, he’s fast, he’s tough, and he’s got great ball skills. Denver is a team that is blessed with a plethora of good cover corners; they are loaded,” Koetter said. “They’re one of the best coverage teams — they play dime when they sub, they don’t have a nickel package, they have a dime package where they put six (defensive backs) on the field at one time, and they have some really good pass rushers up front. But as far a combination of six [defensive backs] on the field at one time, in my 10 years in the NFL I’m not sure, No. 1 through No. 6, I’ve seen a better group. Usually when you’ve got six defensive backs out there, two or three of them you’re going, ‘We can really pick on that guy,’ but these guys are good, and I think Talib is exceptional.”
While the Bucs will be aware of Talib, they can’t totally stay away from him.
“You can’t just totally stay away from him,” Koetter said. “You can move your guys, try to stack them, give them different splits, move your guys in motion, get them in the slot. There’s a lot of things you can do, but there are other instances where we do try to avoid certain guys.”