One of the gems of free agency for the Broncos was their acquisition of veteran cornerback Aqib Talib. He’s a shutdown corner who plays press-man coverage as good as most anyone in the league. Talib is big, physical and likes to take chances on the football field.
During training camp, Talib has gotten burned a few times. Of course he’s covering Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders on most plays, and both of those guys are difficult to match up with.
However, there have been some plays in the preseason where Talib has gotten burned—or nearly burned in coverage.
In the game against the San Francisco 49ers, Talib was almost burned for a touchdown by Brandon Lloyd. The veteran receiver has a ton of experience, but he was out of football last year, and he may not make the final roster for the 49ers. A player like Lloyd should not be getting past Talib so easily.
The veteran corner notes the attitude of the secondary this year is going to be toughness. “We’re going to try to be a tough group. That’s the goal. We’re going to try to be assignment sound, and we’re going to try to be physical.”
I interviewed Sal Paolantonio from ESPN on my ESPN Denver radio show earlier this year during the joint practices between the Broncos and the Texans. He said he had “major concerns” about Talib on this Broncos defense. When I pressed Paolantonio on his answer he was frank with his answer.
“He has a switch that he turns on and off. When he’s motivated, and that switch is on, he’s one of the best in the game. When that switch is off, he doesn’t look very good—even against a second receiver like DeAndre Hopkins.”
That week of joint practices, Hopkins was able to get open for a score more than once against Talib. Maybe his switch was “off” that day (likely), but it is a concern for the Broncos.
Talib has never played a full 16-game season during his five-year pro career. He needs to stay healthy and motivated if he’s going to play up to his potential with the Broncos.
All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. Contract and salary-cap information provided by Spotrac.com. Transaction history provided by ProSportsTransactions.com.