Bucs secondary makes do without Aqib Talib
Cornerback Aqib Talib, who has been fighting a hamstring strain all season might finally have caved to the injury.
Talib left during the first series of today's game, suggesting afterward that he aggravated the hamstring strain he’s been coping with since the Bucs’ bye six weeks ago. Talib didn’t want to comment afterward, but his injury had far-reaching implications, particularly in the way the Bucs matched up with Carolina star WR Steve Smith.
Talib has had consistent success against Smith, but after he was sidelined, the chore of covering Smith fell to a litany of teammates – Ronde Barber, E.J. Biggers, Elbert Mack and Anthony Gaitor.
With second-year player Myron Lewis inactive, the Bucs were a bit short-handed but seemed to handle Smith well. He finished with two catches for 32 yards.
“Around here, it’s next man up,” Mack said. “This isn’t my first rodeo.”
Gaitor, a seventh-round pick in April, saw some rare action at cornerback and acquitted himself nicely except for the borderline pass-interference call against tight end Greg Olson in the fourth quarter.
“I was definitely ready,” Gaitor said. “I’ve been getting reps in practice in case a time like this occurred. I just try to stay ready.”