- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Now a month into his stint with the New England Patriots, cornerback Aqib Talib has started the past three games and is settling into the secondary as his team enters the final quarter of the season.
Despite earning early attention with a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown in his Patriots debut, Talib feels like he can improve.
"Lot of work to do. I could be a lot better," he said on Wednesday. "I can just go down the list of things I can do better. But all in all, I can be a lot better on the field."
The Patriots secondary has been in-flux all season, but looks to have finally settled into a personnel grouping of Talib and Alfonzo Dennard at the top cornerback spots, with Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory starting at safety.
Part of what could make that group successful is cohesion and communication. While it's hardly the first time defensive backs in New England have stressed the importance of chemistry in recent seasons, Talib feels that aspect of the secondary is coming along.
"We've been working on it at practice, putting a little extra time in, getting all of our communication down," Talib said. "We can definitely get better though."
Easily the biggest test of Talib's career with the Patriots to date will come on Monday night, when he could have coverage responsibilities on Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson, one of the NFL's premier pass-catchers.
It's hardly a stretch to say that the Patriots traded for Talib, a former first-round draft choice, in order to stand a better chance against players like Johnson. As such, Monday night's game could serve as a chance to evaluate the Patriots' decision to give up a fourth-round pick in next year's draft to acquire Talib, who said he's never faced Johnson in his career.
"He's definitely one of the most talented guys in the NFL," Talib said. "He really can do it all, from short routes, deeper routes, running with the ball in his hands, going up and getting the ball downfield. He can do it all."