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CB Aqib Talib preparing for Patriots debut

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CB Aqib Talib preparing for Patriots debut

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Aqib Talib wants to leave his past troubles behind. The New England Patriots hope he can do the same for their secondary.

The cornerback's career since he was drafted in the first round in 2008 has been marked by strong play and numerous off-field problems.

He's had two NFL suspensions and a fight with a fellow Tampa Bay draftee at a rookie symposium. In May 2011, he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but that was dropped last June 18.

``What happened in the past is the past,'' Talib said on Thursday. ``I'm just looking forward to make the best of this opportunity and win some ballgames.''

Coach Bill Belichick traded with the Buccaneers for Talib before last Sunday's 37-31 win over the Buffalo Bills. He had to sit that out to complete a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, which Talib said was Adderall.

Belichick was brief when asked why he felt Talib would have no such issues with the Patriots.

``Any player that we bring here, we feel confident in bringing here or we wouldn't bring him,'' he said.

Talib said his new coach didn't discuss his off-field troubles with him.

``We kind of just talked straight football,'' he said. ``He didn't bring up the past. I didn't bring up the past. He didn't bring up the future. I didn't bring up the future.''

For now, Talib is focused on the daily grind of learning a new defense and practicing to be ready for Sunday's game against Indianapolis.

The Patriots lead the AFC East with a 6-3 record and the NFL's best offense, Their pass defense is one of the worst; only four teams have allowed more yards through the air.

``The great thing about him is he's a great athlete,'' defensive end Rob Ninkovich said of Talib. ``Obviously, it's not the easiest thing to just jump into something new, but he's a great player so I think he'll be all right.''

Tampa Bay took Talib out of Kansas with the 20th pick in 2008. He's started 45 of his 58 games and has 18 interceptions, three for touchdowns.

In four games this year, he had one interception and 21 tackles.

With the recent move of starting cornerback Devin McCourty to safety, where Patrick Chung has been sidelined for three games, there's a spot for Talib to fill.

There's also some uncertainty for Indianapolis interim coach Bruce Arians.

``You don't know if Patrick is going to play. You don't know if Aqib is going to play,'' he said. ``You just know the coverages and the things that they've been doing and then what they've done in the past. You try to get your guys ready to play and really concentrate on their own games as much as you do on the opponent's games.''

Talib's first suspension without pay was for the regular-season opener in 2010 for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. That resulted from an altercation with a St. Petersburg cab driver during training camp in August 2009.

He also had charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas dropped a week before he was due to be tried for allegedly firing a gun at his sister's boyfriend.

Asked what kind of person he was off the field, Talib shifted the focus back to his sport.

``I'm a competitor, man, on the field,'' he said. ``That's kind of what we're talking about right now, just football.''

Now he's busy studying the Patriots' defensive system so he can help a secondary that needs a boost.

``I did my best to stay in pretty good shape'' during his suspension, he said. ``It's my fifth year in the league and I've played almost every coverage there is to play. So whatever they ask me to play, that's what I'm going to play.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

In this week's mailbag podcast, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir answer several questions about the Caps' prospects and Hershey.

How does the future look on the farm? Plus, they talk about potential weaknesses, their biggest surprises and more!

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

For well over six seasons, Manny Machado's value to the Baltimore Orioles has been solely his ability to hit and play the field.

All that has changed, now that the Orioles are looking to receive a huge return for their All-Star shortstop in a blockbuster trade.

Machado homered before being removed on a wet day, Adam Jones hit a three-run double and Baltimore rallied past the Texas Rangers 6-5 Sunday.

Machado was taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Buck Showalter after a 26-minute rain delay. The move was designed to get their star player off a sloppy field, because the last-place Orioles are entertaining offers for Machado before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that," Showalter said. "That had a lot to do with it."

Plain and simple, the Orioles can't afford to have Machado get hurt. Now, more than ever.

"A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game," Showalter acknowledged. "We know that. You know it."

After being replaced by Jace Peterson, Machado sat in the dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and joking with his teammates.

"I don't know why (Showalter) did it or not," Machado said. "He just told me, `I'm going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"

Machado is Baltimore's lone representative for Tuesday's showcase. He has spent his entire career in Baltimore, but his contract expires after this season and the Orioles don't appear interested in locking him up with a long-term deal.

"I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing," Machado said. "I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean it's just been very incredible."

In a matchup between two teams staggering into the break, Texas got a first-inning grand slam from rookie Ronald Guzman but quickly gave the lead away in losing for the seventh time in nine games.

Machado ignited the comeback with his 24th homer, and Jones' bases-clearing double in the third off Mike Minor (6-6) put Baltimore ahead to stay.

"I'll be fine," said Minor, who yielded five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I'll reflect a little bit and then get back to it."

The game ended when Texas pinch-runner Carlos Tocci was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus. Running from first base, Tocci was tagged out by catcher Caleb Joseph following throws by right fielder Mark Trumbo and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"Textbook," Showalter said.

Texas manager Jeff Bannister called it a "situation where they had to throw it on line to throw Tocci out. They executed well."

Tanner Scott (1-1), the first of four Baltimore relievers, earned his first big league win.

Zach Britton, another Oriole supposedly on the trading block, worked the ninth for his fourth save, the second in two days.

Texas broke on top when Miguel Castro issued three straight walks and Guzman sent a one-out drive over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

It was 4-1 in the third when Joseph hit an RBI double and Jones doubled down the left-field line following a walk to Machado.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh to get the Rangers to 6-5.

STREAKY

Choo opened the game with a walk, extending to 51 his single-season club record streak of games reaching base via a hit, walk or HBP. ... Texas' Delino DeShields went 0 for 3, stretching his hitless drought to 28 at-bats. ... Jones snapped a 1-for-16 skid with his third-inning double.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara was given the day off after hurting his hand Saturday night in the outfield.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) was set to make his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (oblique) and OF Craig Gentry (rib fracture) likely won't come off the DL before August, Showalter said. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (neck strain) will be activated from the DL on Saturday or Sunday to face Toronto, Showalter said.

UP NEXT

Rangers: The rotation after the All-Star break, beginning Friday against visiting Cleveland: Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Minor.

Orioles: After the All-Star break, Dylan Bundy will start at Toronto on Friday night.