TAMPA — Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib says stress over his now-dismissed aggravated assault charge in Texas was "killing" him and he is grateful for the "clean slate" given to him by new coach Greg Schiano.
Talib, in Atlanta participating in agent Todd France's annual football camp, told an Atlanta radio station that accuser Shannon Billings was unfairly targeting him in the March 2011 shooting case in which he was charged.
"It was killing me, man," Talib, 26, said. "It was a bad situation where a guy had to say a couple lies to try to put an extra couple dollars in his pocket. But it was killing me, man. It was just a bad situation, and I'm just glad it's behind me."
Talib was accused of firing a handgun during a domestic dispute with Billings, a former boyfriend of Talib's sister. Prosecutors in Dallas dropped the charge last week at least in part because of concerns about Billings' credibility, Talib's attorney said.
Billings is currently in jail on unrelated charges.
With the situation resolved, Talib said he has the fresh start Schiano promised him after the coach was hired in January to replace fired Raheem Morris.
"Clean slate, clean start," Talib said. "I'm just (looking) forward from now on."
The Bucs' first-round pick out of Kansas in 2008 suggested the situation that got him in trouble has taught him to make better decisions.
"Just got to get to the right place at the right time, and stuff like that won't happen to you," he said.
Also, Talib lamented the young Bucs' inability to prepare properly for the 2011 season because of the NFL lockout but said a lack of preparation won't be an issue this year.
"The biggest difference is, I think, the (offseason activities) attendance," he said. "We had probably, like, 97, 98 percent attendance since April 4, since we started our offseason program.
"We didn't prepare last year. We didn't have a good offseason at all. We were locked out. It was a young team. We had to prepare on our own, and we didn't do a good job of preparing on our own. But this year, Coach Schiano came in, and the whole Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been preparing since April. I think we'll have a pretty good season."
Also during the past few months, players have been exposed to a level of structure and discipline that wasn't in place last season under Morris, Talib said.
"It got a little loose last year where people got a little too loose around the building," Talib said. "So, Schiano definitely came in and brought that order back to the building."
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow him on Twitter at @BucsBeat.