New England Patriots shutdown corner Aqib Talib has missed the past two games with a hip flexor strain, and it would be a huge surprise if he were to miss a third straight game. I honestly thought the Patriots would get Talib back against the Miami Dolphins, but he sat out the Week 8 rivalry contest despite having practiced all week. The Patriots didn’t miss a beat without him, though, but they will surely need him against the Pittsburgh Steelers this week with Antonio Brown looming.
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss reports that Talib is back at practice today, which essentially means that he will play this week. If he’s practicing to start the week after practicing all week last week, then it’s safe to say that Talib will be making his return here in Week 9. He has four interceptions and nine total passes defended in his best season yet, and he’s definitely making good on the prove-it deal he signed this offseason. Talib is playing the best football of his career, and he is finally playing at a consistently elite level, thus making good on his amazing physical tools. Playing with the Patriots has done Talib some good, but I think he would have played this well if he moved from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to any well-coached team.
Antonio Brown has been one of the best wide receivers in the league this season, and the connection between Steelers star QB Ben Roethlisberger and Brown is one that will be put to the test against Talib and Devin McCourty, who is clearly the league’s best coverage safety. Getting Talib back this week is huge, and hopefully his hip stays healthy the rest of the way.