TAMPA — The Bucs will open the season against the Browns without arguably their best defender.
Cornerback Aqib Talib on Tuesday was suspended one game for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, stemming from a 2009 arrest. He will miss the Sept. 12 opener and cannot practice with the team leading up to the game. He also will be fined two games worth of salary, $177,187.
Talib has exhausted his appeals and Tuesday's decision is final.
Talib was arrested in St. Petersburg in August 2009 and charged with punching a cab driver while en route to the team hotel in Tampa. The case was not adjudicated until April.
The Bucs are adamant that Talib has been a model citizen since, but perhaps NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wanted to make sure that remained the case.
"Since last fall, Aqib has done all that's been asked of him and more, on and especially off the field," general manager Mark Dominik said in a statement. "We look forward to his return to the field in Week 2."
Talib was originally charged with resisting arrest without violence and simple battery after police said he punched cab driver David Duggan on the right ear and neck. Talib, 24, reached a pre-trial intervention agreement with Pinellas prosecutors, the primary requirement of which was to attend anger management courses. Talib also reached an undisclosed civil settlement with Duggan.
Though the incident happened before last season, the league apparently waited for Talib's case to be settled in the judicial system.
Talib met with Goodell during the offseason and seemed to believe he had escaped suspension. Talib was unavailable for comment Tuesday. In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times last month, he said he had learned his lesson.
"Unfortunately, I was one of the guys who had a chance to go and sit in front of the commissioner," Talib said. "It ain't just Roger in that room. You're sitting there with about eight guys. … You can tell by the way they treat you the first time you go up there, if you show up again, I can just imagine how they treat you. It's a humbling experience. You don't want to go back there, man. That will make you clean up your act a lot.
"Off the field, I've done a lot less going out. A lot less everything. A lot less alcohol."
Talib, the starting left cornerback entering his third season, often covers featured receivers. For the opener, his role presumably falls to untested E.J. Biggers, a second-year player making his regular-season debut after sitting out 2009 with a shoulder injury. He has been the third cornerback during the preseason behind Talib and right corner Ronde Barber.
Elbert Mack figures to be the Week 1 nickel back and rookie Myron Lewis, coming along after missing extensive time with a hamstring injury, could play a role.