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Skilled cover man Talib gives Patriots flexibility

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Nov. 02, 2012 @ 3:43 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

For the third year in a row, it’s easy to pinpoint the Patriots’ weakness — the secondary and defending the pass. It's even more noticeable this season since the run defense has been one of the league’s best. The pass rush is improved, but the Pats are still giving up big plays through the air. In fact, New England has given up six pass plays of 40 yards or more. 

Injuries have shifted things in the secondary, and rookies S Tavon Wilson and CB Alfonzo Dennard have seen increased playing time of late. Devin McCourty had some struggles playing the ball at corner and has helped the secondary by playing some safety the past two games.

With all of the team's personnel issues in mind, Bill Belichick made an aggressive move at the trade deadline, sending a fourth-round pick to Tampa Bay for troubled but talented CB Aqib Talib, who will be eligible for the Pats’ Week 11 game after he is done serving a four-game suspension for using Adderall. Talib is a physical, aggressive corner who has good ball skills, something that New England’s secondary is lacking. He has 53 career passes defensed, and at 6-1, 205 pounds, Talib is now the Patriots’ biggest defensive back. We know that Belichick wanted to get bigger at corner, a big reason why he drafted Ras-I Dowling in 2011, but Dowling is on injured reserve for the second year in a row.

Talib also allows Belichick some flexibility with McCourty, and he can move players around based on the opponent. When safeties Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung are healthy, with Talib in the fold, suddenly, the Pats have good options in the secondary.

Obviously, Belichick is taking a chance with Talib, who has had his fair share of off-the-field issues, but it wouldn’t be the first time Belichick has done this, and Talib’s skill set is something the Patriots have been seeking in the secondary.

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