Aqib Talib

Aqib Talib Targeting Week 13 Return

Aqib Talib underwent ankle surgery more than a month ago, but the Rams weren’t planning for the former All-Pro cornerback to miss the rest of the season. It looks like that’s still going to be the case, and Talib may not be out any longer than he’s forced to be.

Talib said during an NFL Network interview (via ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez, on Twitter) he expects to be full go by Week 13. That’s the first game for which he’d be eligible to return from IR. The Rams face the Lions that week, which follows their Week 12 bye.

The Rams could certainly use the help in coverage. They rank 15th in pass defense DVOA and have seen trade acquisition Marcus Peters fail to live up to expectations. The former All-Pro and defensive rookie of the year has been regularly beaten in coverage this season, with Michael Thomas‘ 72-yard, game-clinching touchdown the latest example. Although, slot man Nickell Robey-Coleman‘s remained one of the best at his position.

Familiar with Wade Phillips‘ system far more than Peters, Talib returning would bring a key element for the Super Bowl-contending Rams. They explored cornerback help at the deadline but instead used 2019 draft capital to acquire Dante Fowler.

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Rams CB Aqib Talib Expected Back This Season

When cornerback Aqib Talib was placed on the injured reserve earlier this week, there seemed to be some optimism surrounding an eventual return. Rams coach Sean McVay echoed that sentiment on Friday, telling reporters that he expects the veteran to return before the end of the regular season.

“We’re very encouraged,” McVay said (via ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry). “And I know Aqib feels that way and we’re looking forward to getting him back. I don’t know exactly what that date would be but I know that the anticipation is to get him back.”

Talb suffered a high ankle sprain in the Rams’ win over the Chargers on Sunday, and there was initially some worry that his subsequent surgery “would reveal a season-ending injury.” That didn’t end up being the case, but the Rams still placed the 32-year-old on the IR. Talib will be eligible to return during the first week of December.

After having made five straight Pro Bowls, the Rams acquired Talib from the Broncos back in March. The defensive back had started each of his three games with Los Angeles, compiling nine tackles, two passes defended, and a forced fumble. During his absence, the Rams will likely turn to one of Nickell Robey-Coleman or Sam Shields to team up with Marcus Peters in the starting lineup. The team is also rostering cornerbacks Troy Hill and Dominique Hatfield.

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Rams Place CB Aqib Talib On IR

The Rams have placed cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve with an ankle injury, according to a team announcement. Talib will have surgery on Thursday, but the good news is that he has not been ruled out for a return later this year.

Talb suffered a high ankle sprain in the Rams’ win over the Chargers on Sunday. It’s a tough blow to a Rams D that may also be without fellow starting corner Marcus Peters for a period.

Nickell Robey-Coleman and Sam Shields are the next men up, but Robey-Coleman is the team’s slot specialist and Shields has hardly played over the last two years due to severe concussion trouble, though he has been active in the Rams’ first three contests.

Talib has not missed more than three games in a season since his 2012 campaign with the Buccaneers and Patriots. Unfortunately, that streak has come to an end.

To take Talib’s place on the roster, the Rams have promoted fellow cornerback Dominique Hatfield.

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Aqib Talib To Undergo Surgery

Aqib Talib is expected to miss around a month of action because of a high ankle sprain suffered in the Rams’ win over the Chargers. However, this process will now include a surgery.

Sean McVay confirmed Talib will have surgery on Thursday (per The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore, on Twitter). He’s been declared out for Thursday’s game against the Vikings, and McVay isn’t sure how long it will take Talib to recover from this operation, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

An IR stay for the 11th-year defender hasn’t yet been mentioned. The Rams are set to face the Vikings in a key NFC game Thursday and may not have either Talib or Marcus Peters for it. Peters is battling a calf strain and is day-to-day, per McVay.

This will be a blow to a Rams team flush with star talent on defense. Nickell Robey-Coleman and Sam Shields represent the next men up, but Robey-Coleman serves as Los Angeles’ slot corner. Shields missed all but one game during the 2016 and ’17 seasons due to severe concussion trouble. He’s played in 48 snaps across three Rams games this season, however. The former Packers top corner is still just 30.

Talib has not missed more than three games in a season since his 2012 campaign with the Buccaneers and Patriots. He missed three games for the 2016 Broncos but still earned his first-team All-Pro honor. He missed one game last season, but that was for his fight with Michael Crabtree.

Following their home Vikings tilt, the Rams have road trips scheduled for Seattle, Denver and San Francisco. It appears unlikely Talib will be healthy enough to face the Broncos in Week 6.

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Aqib Talib Out At Least A Month

More bad news for the Rams’ defense as star cornerback Aqib Talib has a high ankle sprain and will miss at least a month of action according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link).

It comes on the heels of the news that fellow cornerback Marcus Peters would miss some time due to a calf strain. Both players suffered their lower leg injuries in yesterday’s win over the Chargers. It means the Rams’ secondary will likely be extremely short-handed when they take on the Vikings on Thursday Night Football just three days from now.

The Rams’ defense was already a little banged up, with starting inside linebacker Mark Barron missing the first three games due to an Achilles injury. It’s a significant blow to Los Angeles’ new-look defense, as both Talib and Peters were prized acquisitions this offseason, tasked with replacing departed free agent Trumaine Johnson in the secondary. Talib and Peters had mostly shutdown opposing wideouts the first few games, with very few passes targeted their way. Through three games, Talib notched nine tackles, a pair of passes defended, and a forced fumble.

Talib, 32, is in the 11th year of his career and playing on his fourth team. The five-time Pro Bowler was drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round back in 2008. After a successful run in Denver where he won a Super Bowl, Talib was traded to the Rams for a fifth round pick this offseason. Former Packers starter Sam Shields figures to see the biggest increase in playing time while Talib is on the shelf.

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Aqib Talib On Blocking Trade To 49ers

In March, Broncos GM John Elway reached agreement on a deal to send Aqib Talib to the 49ers for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft. Or, so he thought. Talib blocked the deal, forcing Elway to instead send the cornerback to the Rams for a 2018 fifth-round choice. In an interview with Andy Benoit of SI.com, Talib said the notion of going to San Francisco was a non-starter for him. 

I told [Elway], ‘I ain’t even gonna take no physical in San Fran, so there won’t be no trade,’” Talib said.

Ultimately, Talib was willing to play for only three teams – the Rams, Patriots, and Cowboys. The veteran cited familiarity – both on-and off-the-field – as the reason for his three-team list.

I’m going on year 11, man. I’m not trying to go learn a whole new system. I wanted to go somewhere I’d be comfortable.” Talib said. “I’m comfortable if I can live at my house in Dallas and go just around the corner to work. I cut my bills in half. Or if I can go play in a defensive scheme that I’ve played in before. So I told him Dallas, New England or L.A.

Ultimately, Talib got his way as he reunited with Wade Phillips in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Rams assumed his contract, which calls for $11MM in 2018 and $8MM in 2019. Talib reportedly would have also been okay with an outright release, but he has no complaints after landing with one of his preferred teams – a Rams club that has gone to great lengths to improve its defense.

In addition to Talib, the Rams have also added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters. On the other side of the Ball, the Rams brought in Brandin Cooks to offset the loss of Sammy Watkins.

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Rams HC Sean McVay Discusses Offseason, Cooks, Talib

The Rams are going to have plenty of pressure on them heading into next season. Following a 2017 campaign that saw them win 11 games and earn their first playoff appearance in more than a decade, the franchise loaded up this offseason.

While the team let go of players like Sammy Watkins, Trumaine JohnsonAlec Ogletree and Robert Quinn, they seemingly found upgrades in Brandin Cooks, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh . Clearly, there will be a lot of pressure on this talented squad, but it sounds like Sean McVay is ready for the challenge.

The Rams head coach recently sat down with Myles Simmons of TheRams.com to discuss his offseason additions and the team’s expectations in 2018. The whole interview is worth checking out, but we’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below:

How OTAs have been going, especially when it comes to adding new players into the system:

“I think it’s been really good. There’s been a lot of good competition, guys getting familiar with our systems, continuing to learn each other — how to compete but be smart doing it. And I think we’re just starting to see guys just continue to make improvements one day at a time. Our coaches are doing a great job. So want to wrap up OTAs the right way next week.”

On the acquistion of wideout Brandin Cooks, and how his addition will help quarterback Jared Goff:

“Yeah, I think with Brandin, and then being able to play alongside such a great receiving corps that we have in place, he’s been a nice addition. Feel really good watching the way he’s been able to implement himself into our offense by the way he’s learned, how conscientious he is in meetings. And he’s a guy — if you just look at, really, his career — he is a really fast player, but he can do everything. He plays big for a smaller-stature guy. But he’s strong. He can win short, he can win intermediate, he can go down the field. So I think you’re really not limited in any way that you can utilize him. And there’s a reason why he’s had over 1,000 yards and [at least] seven touchdowns each of the last three years. And he’s a special player for sure.”

On the addition of cornerback Aqib Talib, and how his veteran presence will help the defense:

“Well I think like anybody else, he’s had a lot of success in this league. But I think he leads by being able to connect with the players, and then going out and doing things the right way with the way he practices, the way he is in meetings. I’ve been extremely impressed watching him from afar. I was with him in Tampa his rookie year, and now just getting a chance to reconnect with him — smart player, cerebral. Seen a lot of different things, understands concepts. And then he’s also got the athleticism to match up with it. And he’s very comfortable having played in this system with coach Phillips in Denver. So, it’s been a seamless transition for him so far. And we feel really good about having Aqib with us.”

On how much Talib’s relationship with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips influenced the acquisition:

“Oh, it’s huge. I think that’s one of the things you feel so good about, is that a lot of the players that we’ve acquired from outside the organization have been people that have worked with some members of our coaching staff. And Wade in particular with the knowledge and experience that he has, he’s got a great feel for personnel around this league. And having worked with some great players, you hear guys want to come play for him because of the way he works with those guys, the way he puts them in position to have success. And Aqib is very similar. And, like I said, extremely pleased that we got him and it’s a real credit to Les and his staff for getting that trade done.”

On first-year quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor:

“Yeah I think when you look at Zac, great college quarterback, had some success playing professionally, Big 12 Player of the Year. He’s got a great even-keel demeanor and disposition. He’s been a coordinator, when he called plays for the Dolphins. He was at the University of Cincinnati. But I think he’s just got such a great perspective and a really good way about relating to the players, communicating in a clear, open, and honest fashion. And that demeanor, that disposition — especially dealing with the quarterback position — I think is perfect. Extremely detail-oriented. Been really pleased with what he’s done. And he’s another guy, having had him in place, getting to work with our receivers last year, and now watching the way he’s interacting with Jared, with Sean, and with Brandon — it’s been a really seamless transition. And he’s done a really good job so far.”

On avoiding a “boom-or-bust” mentality:

“I think the NFL is so competitive — don’t really look at it like that. Look at it as, we feel confident with the players that we have, with our coaches. And we’re focused on getting better every single day. And I think in the short amount of time that I’ve been fortunate to work in this league, you realize how competitive all 32 teams are — the other 31 teams other than us. And [they’ve got] great coaches, great players. And you can’t afford to kind of get complacent. You’ve got to always focus on getting better one day at a time, establishing a standard of performance and how our process guides our everyday approach — and that’s the one day at a time. And you can’t really get caught up in things that we can’t control. We kind of just want to be just want to be where our feet our planted, and that’s being present in the day and controlling what we can control.”

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Extra Points: Smith, Manziel, Rams

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Former Raiders and 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith is “being transferred to an inpatient substance abuse treatment center as he awaits his next court date” (via ESPN.com). Smith was arrested last week after violating the conditions of his monitoring. The “order for Smith to remain in custody in rehab” is indefinite, according to a spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney’s office. Last month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges following a March incident. The Raiders still released the trouble defender soon after the initial arrest.
  • The CFL could provide quarterback Johnny Manziel with a path back to the NFL, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that the transition wouldn’t be immediate. A source told the reporter that the CFL won’t “soften” the rule that requires a two-year commitment from their players, meaning if Manziel joined the league, he wouldn’t be able to sign with an NFL team until at least 2020. Florio writes that the quarterback could shift his focus to the Alliance of American Football, a spring league that is set to launch in 2019.
  • In an interview with TheRams.com, recently-acquired cornerback Aqib Talib explained why he wanted to be traded to the Rams. “Well, I’m in the later half of my career and I just wanted to be comfortable,” Talib said. “Wherever I went, I wanted to be comfortable and there was no time in the NFL where I was more comfortable playing football than with Wade Phillips. He’€™s like a guru at putting guys in position to succeed. So if I was going to go somewhere I wanted to be comfortable and I’€™m definitely comfortable here in L.A.”
  • The Rams are already working on a new deal with Aaron Donald, and general manager Les Snead acknowledged that the defensive tackle will ultimately make more than new teammate Ndamukong Suh. “The nice thing about Ndamukong,” Snead said during an appearance on The MMQB Podcast with Peter King (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com), “at age 31 and somebody who’s been the highest-paid defensive player in football, winning was very important in this phase of his career…He’s well aware that when you can partner, be beside someone who is on the verge of being the highest-paid defensive player in football, then that’s a really good thing. I guess you’d say two is better than one.”

Extra Points: Butler, Shead, Rams, Chiefs

It’s been a wild ride for the Seahawks defense the past week. After the team traded Michael Bennett to the Eagles and released Richard Sherman, it also decided to release cornerback DeShawn Shead.

This was noteworthy because the Seahawks told the player it would release him to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent despite the NFL saying his contract should toll for 2018.

Earlier today, Shead signed with the Lions but reportedly wanted a return to the Seahawks, the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta tweets. After Seattle honored its statement to make the cornerback a free agent, Shead wanted to give Seattle every chance to keep him, but the organization ultimately wouldn’t match the offer he received from the Lions.

Seattle now enters free agency without three of its top veterans and could be seeing the end of the Earl Thomas era, who has threatened to hold out if he doesn’t receive a new deal. The Seahawks could deal him this offseason and are reportedly looking for a first-round pick in return.

Needless to say, the Seahawks once-stingy defensive unit will look plenty different in 2018.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Rams general manager Les Snead said on Wednesday the team traded linebacker Alec Ogletree to accommodate the ensuing move for cornerback Aqib Talib, Alden Gonzalez tweets. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips prefers cornerbacks to linebackers in his scheme, and a big move had to be made to bring in the former Broncos corner, who will count $11 MM toward the cap.
  • Snead also said he sees ways the Rams can address run defense and the pass rush in free agency, Gonzalez tweets. Though he is weighing what will be available to fill those holes with rookies, he doesn’t want to just wait until the draft to fill obvious needs. The team received some insurance for its pass rush on Wednesday when it re-signed veteran linebacker Connor Barwin.
  • New Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler said he was worried his Super Bowl benching would hurt his value on the open market, USA Today’s Lindsay Jones tweets. Butler notoriously didn’t see the field against the Eagles in February when the Patriots allowed Nick Foles to shred their secondary. The 2015 Pro Bowl selection reached a deal with the Titans on Wednesday worth up to $61 MM over five years, with $30 MM of that being guaranteed.
  • Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said cornerback Marcus Peters‘ trade to the Rams had nothing to do with national anthem protests, Pro Football Talk passes along“This was a football decision. … This wasn’t just one game, wasn’t a month, this was three years of body of work, and we look for consistency. We felt that this was in the best interest of the team,” Veach said. 
  • Veach also touched on the Chiefs move for Sammy Watkins, saying the team pounced on the receiver in the first minute of free agency, the NFL Network’s James Palmer tweets. Veach said that if Watkins received a call before theirs, the other team would’ve had to call in 30 seconds before they did. The team was motivated to move on Watkins to add him to Tyreek Hill, giving strong-armed quarterback Patrick Mahomes a pair of dynamic, stretch-the-field receivers.

Extra Points: Sherman, 49ers, Talib, 49ers, Bucs, Greco

Richard Sherman has taken some flack for his one-year deal with the 49ers, but he has no regrets about acting as his own agent.

I don’t think any agent in the business could have done a better job of negotiating this contract,” Sherman told Peter King of The MMQB. “As long as I’m content with what I’m making, nothing else matters to me. Once I make a Pro Bowl, $8MM the next year is guaranteed for me. It gives me the ability to control my destiny. The 49ers have skin in the game. I have skin in the game. In my former contract, no matter what I did this year, nothing would be guaranteed to me next year. I couldn’t feel secure in my contract. Now, if I play the way I know I’m capable of playing, I know I’m going to get paid.”

Sherman’s deal is a three-year, $39MM pact, but a deeper look shows that the real base value is just $21.15MM with another $18MM coming in the form of bonuses. In order to earn the full $39MM, Sherman must play in every regular season game, be on the field for 90% of snaps, and earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in each season. In other words, it’s unlikely that Sherman will actually see the full value of the deal. Still, Sherman is content with how things played out and intimated that he wanted the opportunity to face his old team twice per year.

  • Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (on Twitter) had more on the 49ers’ proposed trade for cornerback Aqib Talib from the Broncos, which Talib rejected. The 49ers were going to send a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft in exchange for the services of the five-time Pro Bowler. In the end, the Broncos traded Talib to the Rams for a fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft.
  • The Buccanneers looked to shore up their kicking woes of late by attempting to land former Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins before he re-signed with the Redskins, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. The Bucs cut former second-round pick Roberto Aguayo prior to last season and Nick Folk was cut last month after missing a majority of last season on injured reserve with a minor-injury designation. Free-agent addition Patrick Murray hit 82.6% of his kicks with Tampa Bay last year in 23 attempts, with a long of 50 yards.
  • The Giants and offensive lineman John Greco agreed to a one-year deal last month and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (on Twitter) that his salary for 2018 will be $1.02MM. Greco appeared in six games for the Giants last season after spending the previous six seasons as a mainstay within the interior of the Browns’ offensive line.