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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs CB Aqib Talib to injured reserve, replaced by former Buc Jovan Haye



The Bucs have decided cornerback Aqib Talib isn't fit to finish the season.

Talib finally has succumbed to the hamstring injury that has slowed him throughout the second half of the season, the team placing him on injured reserve for the final two games of 2011. Talib has been either unable to play or has been very limited by the hamstring in the past three games. After being inactive last week at Jacksonville, Talib was able to play just half of the first quarter this past Saturday against the Cowboys before re-aggravating the injury.

Talib's spot on the active roster will be filled by defensive tackle Jovan Haye, a former Buc who spent three seasons with Tampa Bay from 2006 to 2008. He started 45 games for the Bucs before playing two seasons for the Titans, 2009 and 2010.

Talib finishes the season on injured reserve for the second time in as many seasons. He missed the final five games of 2010 with a hip injury. He finishes the 2011 season with 42 tackles, two for losses, two forced fumbles and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns.

The question now is whether Talib has played his final game for the Bucs. His future with the team remains very much in doubt. He faces a trial in Texas next spring for his alleged role in a shooting incident in Garland, in which authorities said he fired at his sister's common-law husband. Talib faces up to 20 years in state prison if convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

He has one season remaining on his rookie contract.

Talib’s loss has dealt the Bucs’ secondary a serious blow. He routinely takes on opponents’ top wide receiver, leaving Ronde Barber to play in the slot, where the Bucs use him in a hybrid role. Without Talib, Barber often is forced to spend much of the game playing on the perimeter against outside receivers, reducing his effectiveness.

E.J. Biggers -- normally the nickel back -- becomes the starter at left cornerback in Talib’s absence. He has been targeted by several premier quarterbacks this season, including the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, who threw to Biggers’ man throughout Green Bay’s win over the Bucs last month.

[Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011 5:58pm]


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