Talib ready to go, "can't wait" to face Lions WR Calvin Johnson
Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib talked about how tough it was to sit out the final four games of last season with a hip injury, watching the team's playoff chances dashed with a 23-20 loss to the Lions Dec. 19 at Raymond James Stadium.
In that game, Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson - nicknamed "MegaTron" - had his way, racking up 152 yards.
This time, Talib will be on the field, saying his injured hamstring is feeling good, and he's excited for the challenge of shadowing the Lions 6-foot-5, 230-pound playmaker.
"Since my injury last year, I couldn't wait to get back on the field," Talib said. "I didn't get a chance to play these guys last year - they're a pretty good team, though. Definitely a pretty good receiver. Can't wait to go against him..
"He's one of the top guys in the league - the Johnson boys, got Roddy (White), Reggie (Wayne), can't leave nobody out. But (Johnson) is definitely right up there with everybody...Slash, digs, jump balls, boy can do it all."
The only question is, what will Talib be able to offer Sunday, having not played in a game in eight months? Talib sat out all four preseason games, though he lobbied to play in the final exhibition against the Redskins, saying his hamstring is "98.5 percent." He said he'll be at full participation in practice today.
"I've just got to get (the game reps) back," Talib said. "Best way to get better is repitition. Just looking forward to getting back out there... Football shape is a little bit different. You can't really get in football shape unless you play football. But in my rehab, I have been doing a little bit extra conditioning."
With all the things that have gone on with Talib since last season, including being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon stemming from a March incident in Texas, he's excited the focus is back on football; ever since he found out he would not be suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, his eyes have been on Sept. 11. Even if his first task is stopping one of the NFL's top receivers.
"Hopefully (coach Raheem Morris) gives me the assignment," Talib said. "I'm looking forward to it."
-- JOE SMITH