Aqib Talib: "I'm getting that bounce back"

Patriots corner Aqib Talib hasn't quite been himself since coming back from his Week 6 hip injury. We've seen it in his play, where the corner has been a step slow in coverage. We've seen it in the Patriots unwillingness to shadow him 1-on-1 with the oppositions top receiver, as they did earlier in the season when he was healthy.

However, both the tape and Talib say the corner is starting to feel better. It's a development that is sorely needed by a Pats defense that has been gutted by injuries.
“Definitely, I’m getting that bounce back. I came back right after and was still playing out there limping a little bit. I definitely think that limp is gone now. I think I’m getting closer to all the way back.”
Talib's play last week in Miami backs up his words. While he wasn't tasked with shutting down any single Miami target, the corner had success against every receiver he lined up against. It started with tight end Charles Clay, a catalyst for Miami's recent success, who wasn't targeted in 8 snaps against Talib.

After starting on Clay, Talib worked his way onto other targets. Emerging receiver Rishard Matthews wasn't targeted in six snaps against Talib. Tight end Michael Egnew managed 1 catch for 8 yards in three matchups. Running back Lamar Miller wasn't targeted in his two snaps against Talib.

Talib capped off a solid day in coverage by taking the Dolphins leading statistical receiver, Brian Hartline, and holding him to 1 catch for 8 yards in 11 snaps of man coverage in the fourth quarter. All in all, Talib only allowed 2 catches for 16 yards on the day.

Perhaps the best indication of Talib's improving health was the respect paid to him by Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, who didn't target him once in the team's first 14 offensive snaps.

Talib would acknowledge that his improved health contributed to the improved performance.
“Your confidence comes with that health. You feel like you can run any route with a guy, then you’ll play a different way. It definitely helps to be healthy.”
It's not a second too soon for Pats fans, who will hope Talib's hip holds up against a tougher test this Sunday. Baltimore isn't exactly known for it's prolific offense, but in Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown,
they boast three receivers who can make big plays down the field. We all saw last year how losing Talib impacted the matchup with Joe Flacco and his "chuck it up for grabs deep" offense. If Talib does in fact have that spring in his step back, it will go a long way towards preventing the chunk yardage plays that Baltimore use to beat you.