- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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The rest of the Buccaneers are happy that cornerback Aqib Talib will not be suspended during the 2011 season after a March altercation in Texas.
Talib has a long history of off-field problems, but he remains a very popular figure in the locker room. He also might be Tampa Bay’s best defensive player.
Talib met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week and the league decided not to suspend him immediately. A suspension in 2012 remains possible depending on the outcome of the legal case.
But Talib can concentrate on football for now. The fact he’ll be around should be a big boost to a Tampa Bay defense that’s very young. When Talib is focused, he’s one of the most talented cornerbacks in the league.
Despite his problems, Talib is well liked by his teammates and just about everyone at One Buccaneer Place. Teammates and staff members always say Talib is not a bad person, although they do admit he has not always made the best decisions.
The Bucs are a team that’s so young that there is not a lot of veteran leadership. But there is some. Guys such as Ronde Barber, Jeff Faine and Kellen Winslow are the veterans on this team. Those are guys that aren’t very vocal, but they conduct themselves like professionals. They can do a big favor for their team.
They can be a bit more aggressive in taking an active role with Talib. He doesn’t have a lot of margin for error and the veterans on this team need to do their part in helping him. They need to reach out to Talib and do their best to make sure he stays focused. The situation with Talib is one where his veteran teammates can do a lot more good by being proactive and vocal. They need to provide strong support and not try to stay out of his way.
He’s a very important part of this team and a little positive influence from the veterans might go a long way toward keeping him on a good path.