Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano says he has plan if cornerback Aqib Talib unavailable

TAMPA — Greg Schiano said he's "concerned" about the status of CB Aqib Talib, who is scheduled to go on trial June 25 in Garland, Texas, on charges of assault with a deadly weapon. The Bucs coach also said the team has a plan in case Talib is unavailable.

Talib, who was suspended for the first game of 2010 for assaulting a St. Petersburg cab driver, faces 20 years in prison if convicted for the Texas incident involving a gun in March 2011. And the fifth-year player could face sanctions from the league even if he's not.

"Any time you have a guy where there's an off-the-field situation that could affect his on-the-field situation, you're concerned," Schiano said Thursday. "The thing that I can tell you is since I arrived here Jan. 26, he's been awesome. He's been here every day. He's been extremely focused, doing everything that we asked.

"So I'm pleased with that and hope everything can just kind of sort itself out and we can get back to life."

Schiano did not disclose specifics of his plans.

But the team has options if Talib misses games. Ronde Barber, who has moved to free safety, could return to cornerback opposite free agent Eric Wright. And the team has strong competition among E.J. Biggers, Anthony Gaitor, Keith Tandy and Myron Lewis.

"You always as a head coach have to have those plans just in case," Schiano said. "I hope like heck we don't ever have to dust them off."

Talib was not made available for comment during the three-day mandatory minicamp that ended Thursday.

more than a blocker: OT Donald Penn spent the past few months telling Schiano what a great athlete he is. The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder got to prove it Thursday.

About an hour into the workout, Schiano told the players he would end it immediately if Penn could catch a punt from a Jugs Gun stationed near midfield.

The Bucs went home early.

"The rumors, they abound," Schiano said of Penn's athletic prowess. "He proved himself under pressure. He stepped up."

Penn has two career catches, a deflected pass in 2009 he advanced 15 yards and a 1-yard touchdown in 2010.

"I was joking around with Coach, talking about what a good athlete I am," Penn said. "I know I can catch. You (reporters) know I can catch. Since I caught it, we ended practice early, which is great. We've been working hard."

Penn said he had never caught punts before.

"It's a little different. He could have given me a little warning," Penn said. "I could've been talking to Preston Parker or Sammie Stroughter and gotten a little pointer. Everybody was all excited, and I was like, 'Calm down, calm down. I got it.' "

more than a runner: RB LeGarrette Blount has caught only 20 passes over his two seasons. It's not because he has bad hands, he said.

"I haven't dropped any passes this offseason," Blount said. "Also, when we have specialist groups, I go over with the receivers and the quarterbacks and catch extra footballs. That's another thing that helps me. I've definitely looking to be a receiver."

It remains to be seen if the team will use Blount in passing situations.

"Just watching what I saw here and on tape, does he have good hands? Yes, his hands are fine," Schiano said. "I don't know how that will transfer into our game plan and all that, but he can catch the football. That's a plus."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano says he has plan if cornerback Aqib Talib unavailable 06/14/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2012 12:44am]

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