New England Patriots star cornerback Aqib Talib has been playing at an All-Pro level this season, as he is doing an excellent job of proving himself on the one-year, “prove-it” deal he signed with the Patriots this offseason in lieu of a saturated cornerback market. Talib has always had shutdown potential, but this is the first year in which he has consistently put together shutdown performances. He’s finally joined the echelon of elite cornerbacks, and he seems more motivated than ever. Joining the Patriots has legitimately helped him out, and he understands the scheme better after having an offseason to really get the hang of things. His ability in press coverage makes him death to possession receivers, and only deep threats can have a real shot at consistently beating Talib one-on-one.
Talib suffered a hip flexor strain in Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints, and it caused him to leave the game early after he was shutting down Saints superstar TE Jimmy Graham one-on-one. The former Kansas Jayhawk has had a history of hip issues, and this strain has caused him to miss two games already. He was held out of last week’s game against the Miami Dolphins despite practicing all week, and there is a chance that he still misses this week’s game despite also practicing all week.
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss is the best predictor in the business, because he is as well-connected with the New England Patriots as any other beat writer or insider. I mean, he linked Isaac Sopoaga to the Patriots just hours before the Pats decided to swing a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire him. So yeah, listen to Reiss when the man speaks, and he’s usually dead on with his weekly inactive projections for the Patriots.
This week, he has an extremely interesting prediction, which regards Aqib Talib. According to Reiss, Talib will be inactive for the third straight week despite practicing all of this week and, in my opinion, looking set to play. The Patriots have to face one of the game’s elite receivers tomorrow in Antonio Brown, who is clearly Ben Roethlisberger’s top target. Brown has done an excellent job of moving the chains and has played at an All-Pro level for sure. He and Big Ben share a great connection, and not having a guy like Talib on Brown would definitely hurt.
Reiss isn’t infallible, but he’s almost never wrong; keep a close eye out on Talib’s status. Part of Reiss’s logic is the fact that the Patriots have a bye week coming up and would rather give Talib an extra week of rest with their eyes on his long-term health.