ENGLEWOOD, Colo—Tuesday afternoon, as the Denver Broncos concluded another round of organized team activities at Dove Valley, veteran cornerback Aqib Talib was among three members of the secondary who took time to address the media.
Talib, a 6-foot-2, 202-pound defensive back, has had a wildly successful start to his NFL career, and is entering his eighth NFL season, armed with 27 career interceptions, six of which have been returned for scores.
To me, football is a results-based business and when 22.2 percent of your interceptions have been returned for touchdowns, I call that maximizing results. Talib is a two-time Pro-Bowler, including last year with the Broncos, and another successful season may put him in the running for a berth on the All-Pro team in 2015.
Talib has been riddled with several off-the-field issues in previous stints with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the majority of which are of his own device. Among these are getting into a fistfight with Buccaneers teammate Cory Boyd as a rookie in 2008 and being issued a felony warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in March 2011.
Nevertheless, the Broncos, who are in their second year of a six-year pact with the Kansas product, are relying on him to be a mentor and leader in the secondary. In this vein of thought, it's apparent that Talib, who is still evolving in his maturity, after having turned 29 this past February, should react positively to coaching.
When speaking on how much coaching affects the cornerback position, Talib was pragmatic. “As far as what we do on the field, cover one is cover one, cover three is cover three; it just matters what we're going to be doing the most,” he said today.
Talib, whose parents were divorced at an early age, is also trying to be an effective parent and spend quality time with his children. He talked about his offseason priorities today.
“It's going good,” he said. “I'm enjoying it [I've] got the kids (he has a daughter named Kiara) out and am taking them swimming today.” This was a wise choice on Talib's part, as Tuesday's forecast was expected to be in the high 80s in the greater Denver area.
Talib is also seeking to change the way he trains for his on-field performance in the offseason, addressing this in the next question he received.
“I got a new trainer out in Dallas,” he said. “We do a lot of different things, a lot of things working on staying low and changing direction. He has a totally different approach to training, so I have changed it up, just a little.”
Talib, who will have the charge to lead youngsters in the secondary, such as second-year cornerback Bradley Roby, also has to adapt to a new defensive coordinator in Wade Phillips. For the time being, this is not proving to be a problem.
“He's [Phillips] got a great personality,” Talib said. “He knows some of the music that we're playing when he walks past in the locker room and he's a funny guy. He'll grab the guys and pull them together in a heartbeat. He's a great coach. He knows how to get our attention.”
Talib has great expectations for the season and is impressed with the progression he and his fellow defensive backs are making.
“It's going to be good,” he said. “We're learning and picking up the playbook pretty fast –it's not a real hard playbook to learn. It kind of lets you go play, so we'll be able to play fast. We'll see what happens.”
As a former member of the Patriots, Talib was in New England when some of the purported Deflategate transgressions were going on but he claimed to know nothing of it and would rather focus on the Broncos.
“I had no idea,” he said. “When I was there [New England QB] Tom [Brady] didn't go around telling people about his footballs and stuff like that. I don't know what happened. That's New England's problem. We've got enough problems to worry about in Denver.”
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His response to that question, to me, is a surefire sign of burgeoning maturity. He's obviously more concerned about what the Broncos are doing and beyond that, his story is plausible. This is primarily because, in my previous experience in being a former player, the offense and defense tended to do their own thing, almost as if they were in their own respective realms, despite being a unified team.
The last question Talib fielded concerned his thoughts on if the Broncos secondary was underrated in 2014. Talib kept things in stride and played it down.
“I feel like we was recognized enough,” he said. “It could be better, but if we had finished even later in the season, we would have gotten more recognition. That's what we're worried about.”
It appears to me that Talib is focused on being a mentor and leader in the secondary and is ready to address his own problems and improve on a daily basis. This kind of attitude is what the Broncos need to have a successful season. Accountability is always a key mantra for a football team to embrace, in order to get into propitious position.