New England Patriots star cornerback Aqib Talib practiced all week, and I expected him to play based on that. Talib strained a hip flexor in Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints and was thus unable to play last week against the New York Jets, but I expected Talib to return this week for a division clash against the Miami Dolphins. That reportedly isn’t a likelihood, as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes that the “current expectation” is for Talib to miss today’s game.
While Talib certainly isn’t guaranteed to be inactive today, it sounds like he will be on the wrong side of the game-time decision coin, if it does indeed come to a game-time decision. Losing Talib hurts, because the Dolphins have a very good passing attack, led by rising second-year QB Ryan Tannehill. The Texas A&M product has played at a high level this year, and he has plenty of weapons to throw it to.
The Patriots are expected to start Logan Ryan opposite of Alfonzo Dennard, because the rookie out of Rutgers seems better-equipped to play on the outside than ace slot corner (but really only a slot corner) Kyle Arrington. Dennard should be on Wallace with Devin McCourty bracketing Wallace (that’s a key), and then we’ll see how the rest of the assignments fall into place. The Dolphins do a great job of stretching the field with Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson (value signing of the offseason at WR), and TE Charles Clay.
If Talib plays, then I honestly think the Patriots would try to put him on Hartline (leads the team in receptions) and then perhaps double up on Wallace on the other side of the field by bracketing him with McCourty (it would be Dennard vs. Wallace in that scenario).