Talib says Belichick let him off the hook after training camp scuffle


Talib says Belichick let him off the hook after training camp scuffle

Aqib Talib hasn't played in New England since 2013, but he's as quotable a former Patriot as there is in the league. That means when he's on record, we're usually listening -- especially when the questions have to do with Talib's time in New England. 

As the Broncos cornerback ran through ESPN's "car wash" on Monday, he was asked several questions about the Patriots, and he took time to tell one particular story about Bill Belichick while visiting the Dan LeBetard Show.

It centered around a scuffle that Talib was involved in during joint training camp practices between the Patriots and Buccaneers back in 2013.

"One time the Buccaneers came to practice with us, and Bill made it clear that if anybody get in any fights, that he's sending you in the locker room. He ain't gonna have it," Talib said. "We got to doing special teams, man, and somebody was kind of being a little extra rough with one of my guys, so I kinda went and handled the situation, sling him around a little bit.

"I was ready to get sent in the locker room, and I kind of looked at Bill and Bill had a little smirk on his face like 'Yeah that's why I brought him. That's why I brought him here. Yeah.' That was a good story. I always tell that story. Bill did not send me in, though. He let me play all day."

Talib, who was in his first training camp with the Patriots at the time, was asked if he thought he was given an exemption from the fighting rule for some reason.

"I guess he might've been talking to, like, the young players, man," Talib said. " 'We don't got time for these young guys out here cat fighting. If you're gonna fight, man, it better be 'Qib or something.' That's what Bill was talking about."

Talib also got some face time on ESPN's SportsCenter and First Take, where he answered a few questions about his former team.

On beating the Patriots in the AFC title game: "It's great man. Not just your former team, a powerhouse like that. To beat those guys two times in a row and the second time being to go to the big game, it's an incredible feeling, man. It's an accomplishment-type of feeling."

On if his knowledge of the Patriots offense helped the Broncos: "Having an idea of how they're going to attack us [helped]. Like, throughout the week we're like, 'Are they gonna come out in 11 [personnel] all day or are they gonna come out in 12 [personnel]? How are they going to attack us? I'm in the locker room, like, 'Man, they're going to do this. This is what they're going to do. I know Bill. I know Tom and them. This is how they're going to play us.'

"It played a little part in how [defensive backs coach] Joe Woods and [defensive coordinator] Wade [Phillips] kind of made our script. They asked me and Chris [Harris] because we watch a lot of film . . . 'How you think they're gonna attack us, man? What should we really get ready for?' I said 12 personnel, 11 personnel, mostly 12, and that's kind of what they did."

On choosing Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning: "That's a tough one, man. That's a tough one . . . Their preparation, how they approach the game, I've seen both of them. Just seeing that, seeing their productiviy on the field, it's kind of hard to pick, but if I had to pick, I'm going to pick the guy I won the Super Bowl with. I never won the Super Bowl with Tom. I had a great time over there playing with him. He was amazing to watch. Same with Peyton. But I won the Super Bowl with Peyton."

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

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Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."