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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs can't wait to get Talib back next season, according to Morris



Despite a trial looming in March for felony assault with a deadly weapon and injuries that have cut his last two seasons short, cornerback Aqib Talib will be back with the Bucs next season, according to coach Raheem Morris.

Talib, who returned both his interceptions for touchdowns this year, aggravated a hamstring injury in Saturday night's 31-14 loss to the Cowboys and will miss all or part of five games after being placed on injured reserve Monday. Talib played only four snaps against Carolina, was inactive at Jacksonville and lasted only a few series Saturday against the Cowboys. Talib missed the final five games of 2010 on injured reserve with a hip problem.

"Aqib is a really good football player,'' Morris said. "If we can get Aqib back healthy and get him going, get him stronger, get him faster, get him better -- all those things he'll do this off-season, we can't wait to go back to war with him and get him back on our football team. So he's always one of those guys like that.''

Talib is scheduled to stand trial in Dallas County March 22, 2012 for assault with a deadly weapon stemming from his involvement in a shooting in Garland, Texas, last spring. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Talib in Aug., and cleared him to play this season but will monitor the outcome of his case.

"Obviously, that's going to come up in time,'' Morris said of Talib's legal problems. "The league has put their part into that and did their due diligence as well as us and we know we have to let that play out a little bit and be ready to deal.''

How big of a loss is Talib to the Bucs? 

"Obviously, it's huge,'' Morris said. "Aqib gives you the luxury of letting him track the best wideout and he does a nice job of doing that throughout the season for us. He's able to go to Calvin Johnson -- at the time, it didn't seem like he had a great day -- but he only gave Calvin Johnson two touchdowns and for 40 yards was pretty good, especially one of those being a 1-yard catch I don't think anybody could've stopped. The ones, he went up against (Greg) Jennings and did a nice job with a bunch of wideouts and really had a bunch of good days. He scored two touchdowns this year. Ended up with a couple interceptions he'd like to have a couple more. He actually dropped a few he got upset about. He probably had his best tackling season. He was more physical than he had been throughout his career, was really starting to develop on that side of the ball and really getting those guys going with this new man-to-man mentality they developed over there and was really the driving force for that.

"To lose him, for the team and his guys, is tough. I know it hurts him more than anything. He's one of those guys who tried to fight through this hamstring and go out there and finish the season because he has no quit in him, and unfortunately, wasn't able to do it.''


[Last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 5:56pm]


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