FOXBOROUGH—While Patriots coach Bill Belichick remained mum on the subject of Aqib Talib’s recent acquisition, receiver Deion Branch said Tuesday he recognized the former Buccaneers cornerback as a valuable addition to the team.
“I played against him in preseason and stuff like that,’’ Branch said when asked about his impressions of Talib. “He’s a great player.’’
Talib, a 2008 first-round draft choice of the Bucaneers, was not eligible to join the team until after Nov. 12 because of one game remaining on his four-game NFL suspension for performance-enchancing drugs. As a result, he was not with the team as it prepared for Sunday’s home game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.
“I don’t know if we’ll use him the same way they used him,’’ Branch said. “It’s all about what happens once he gets here.’’
The Patriots, though, seemed to send a message to the locker room they were willing to do anything and everything to go after a player—even with a checkered past as Talib’s—capable of helping the team. Last Thursday, the Patriots traded a 2013 fourth-round to the Bucs for a Talib and a 2013 seventh-round pick in the hopes of bolstering the team’s leaky secondary.
“Well, you know, Coach Belichick and his staff and the organization will always do that,’’ Branch said. “They look out for the team first and they’ll do whatever it takes to help improve the team.’’
Asked if he thought it would be a challenge for Talib to make a mid-season transition to a new team, Branch replied, “I think the guy’s a professional. This is the NFL and this is our job. I’m sure he’ll do a good job.’’