Thirteen days after getting traded, Aqib Talib will pull on a Patriots jersey — albeit a practice one — and hit the field with his new team for the first time Wednesday.
The cornerback is in his fifth NFL season, and had spent the previous four-plus years with Tampa Bay before being acquired by the Patriots for a fourth-round draft pick.
Coach Bill Belichick and defensive starters Jerod Mayo and Devin McCourty had chances Monday to weigh in on the newest defensive Patriot. On Tuesday, it was defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s turn.
During a teleconference (the players had Tuesday off), Patricia was asked if he’d worked with Talib yet.
“I had the opportunity to meet with him yesterday and just get caught up a little bit. That was all good,” Patricia said. “We’re evaluating as the week goes, but we’re excited to get going. Professional, guy’s been in the league, so no problems there.”
The Patriots are hoping that Talib, a former first-round draft pick, can help a defense that is 29th in the league in passing yards allowed.
As for Patricia’s expectations for Talib?
“I think we’ll have to wait and see, evaluate it as the week goes on,” Patricia said. “But obviously, like all of our players, we expect them to come in and work hard, try to get on board with what we’re doing as soon as they can, really get out there and contribute in any way that we feel is positive for the team.”
Plenty of horsepower
After spending time Sunday and Monday looking at film from their own game, the Patriots have turned their focus to the surprising Colts. Just 2-14 a season ago, the Colts are 6-3 and winners of four straight games, working their way into the playoff picture. They’re playing for coach Chuck Pagano, who is on leave while fighting leukemia, and being led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.
They have had lopsided losses — 41-21 at Chicago, 35-9 at the Jets — but they’ve won four straight by playing solid defense. During the win streak, Indianapolis is allowing just 14 points per game.
“They’re very disruptive with their defensive front as we know with guys like [Dwight] Freeney and [Robert] Mathis. They’ve gotten a lot of production out of [Jerry] Hughes and the inside guys as well,” Belichick said. “They’ve got some young linebackers and the secondary has done a good job too, along with the pass rush.
“It’s a good team that’s playing well. They’re obviously on a roll and they’ve played their best football lately. This will be a big challenge for us this week.”
An issue to tackle
Belichick, one day after mentioning his team’s poor tackling in the 37-31 win against the Bills, was asked if the bye week had anything to do with it.
“I don’t have any excuses for it,” he said. “We’ve just got to do a better job of coaching it, got to do a better job of executing it.
“Buffalo’s got a lot of good skill players, their guys are hard to tackle, but we’re going to see that every week, every team’s going to have players that are hard to tackle, that’s what NFL offensive players are, that’s why they’re in the NFL.
“We just have to fundamentally do a better job at that, and coach it better.”
For the first time this season, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had the services of tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who came off the injured list after being designated for return. No passes were thrown Shiancoe’s way against the Bills, but McDaniels still liked what he saw.
“The way the game ended up, we ended up with a lot more single tight end groupings, so we used Visanthe and Danny Fells a little less than what we could have,” McDaniels said. “But he went in there and handled his role. He went in there, did his job, and we’ll try to build on that this week.”
With starting guards Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly leaving Sunday’s game with injuries, the Patriots signed free agent guard Mitch Petrus, who played in 23 games for the Giants, including six this season before being released. Petrus was a fifth-round pick of the Giants in the 2010 draft, and worked out for the Patriots Monday.
According to a league source, Connolly’s injury is not believed to be serious but Sunday is in doubt. There was no word on the severity of Mankins’s injury.
The team also made two practice-squad moves, releasing Jerrell Harris and signing Jeff Tarpinian. Both are linebackers.