Talib visits Bucs, eager to get started Print
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Monday, 28 April 2008 11:15
NFL Headline News

 TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Aqib Talib fielded question after question. When he finally encountered one he couldn't answer, the first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got some unexpected assistance.
``My first name means the last to come. I'm the youngest out of four kids. My last name, I don't know,'' the ballhawking cornerback said Monday before being joined on a podium by Bucs coach Jon Gruden.
The two held up a No. 1 jersey with Talib's name on the back.
``That name,'' Gruden said, ``means good corner, I hope.''
The room erupted in laughter, but Gruden was only half joking.
The Bucs selected a cornerback in the opening round for the first time since 1986, bypassing an opportunity to upgrade the offense with the coach's choice of any receiver in the draft. They're counting on Talib to prove they made the right call.
The starting cornerbacks for much of the past decade have been Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly. Barber turned 33 three weeks ago, while the 32-year-old Kelly skipped town this winter as a free agent.
Talib, who Gruden describes as a ``dynamic playmaker'' at Kansas, will compete with Phillip Buchanon for the starting left cornerback job and play a key role in nickel situations.
``We always let guys come in and compete, especially first-round or second-round picks. ... But that doesn't mean that we just start them. They have to earn it because we like who we have right now,'' defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said.
``Last year we ran like 1,082 plays on defense, and 42 percent of the time we played nickel, which means three wideouts in the game. So, we got to match up with three corners. That's why you need a really good third corner. He not only is one snap away from being a starter, but is also going to play right now close to 50 percent of the time.''
The ultra-confident Talib is eager to learn the defense and contribute any he can.
He looks forward to learning from Barber and others, like linebacker Derrick Brooks and safeties Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson, on a defense that's ranked among the league's best 10 of the past 11 seasons.
As part of the core of players that helped put the Kansas football program back on the map, Talib had 13 career interceptions in college. He also made an impact on offense as a receiver, averaging nearly 25 yards per catch and scoring TDs on five of nine career receptions.
He doesn't anticipate his upbeat, sometimes brash personality rubbing teammates the wrong way.
``I'm on their team now. I think they want me to come in and compete. They want me to come in and help the team win a championship. That's what we're trying to do,'' said Talib, selected the most valuable player in this year's Orange Bowl after scoring on a 60-yard interception return to help Kansas beat Virginia Tech.
``If there's a player here who's going to help them win a championship, they want him to do his hardest to be on the field. I think I'll fit in perfect. I'm a people person. I've never had a problem fitting in with a crowd.''
On his first visit to the team's training complex since being selected No. 20 overall, Talib also reiterated he doesn't believe Tampa Bay took a risk by drafting someone who reportedly acknowledged to testing positive for marijuana three times in college.
He has said his problems at Kansas occurred more than two years ago.
``All I can say is my actions speak louder than words. I'm pretty sure that maybe after this season when nothing happens, it'll die down. I'm not really worried about it,'' he said. ``I made a bad reputation at Kansas from doing that. I'm not dumb enough to do it again. I learned from my mistakes.''
The Bucs are confident the trouble is behind him.
``It is not only our discussions with him, which were extremely positive ... it is his coaches that stand by him 100 percent,'' general manager Bruce Allen said. ``It is also his teammates. ... Everyone spoke very highly of him.''
 

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