Insider: Buccaneers Preseason Notebook

Bucs Depending on Talib

Fact- Aqib Talib is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the NFL.

Fact- Nobody in the NFL brings up Talib’s name when talking about the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

Aqib Talib’s talent has never been a question as he’s been a standout ever since staring at Kansas. Unfortunately, Talib’s off the field issues have far outweighed his on field exploits which include 17 career interceptions and three touchdowns.

Talib has seemingly had issues ever since being drafted by the Bucs 20th overall in 2008, as he was removed from the Rookie Symposium for fighting. After an arrest for simple battery, Talib was then charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon stemming from a 2011 incident, which he was later exonerated from.

“It was killing me, man,” Talib told Atlanta’s 790 The Zone earlier in June. “It was a bad situation where a guy had a couple lies to try to put a extra couple dollars in his pocket. But it was killing me, man. It was just a bad situation and I’m just glad it’s behind me.”

Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano and the rest of the Tampa Bay organization are hoping that Talib did indeed put the bad situations behind him so he can finally fulfill his potential. 16-year veteran Ronde Barber believes that Talib has turned over a new leaf and he can be the player that the Bucs are counting on.

“His decision to stay in Tampa and be here for I think almost 100 percent of the workouts, and train in the offseason, which he’d never done before, he’d always gone home — I think those things just speak to his level of dedication. Whether you call it scared straight or really just wanting to realize his talent. Either way, he was here,“ Barber said on a radio interview with WDAE.

With Ronde Barber likely moving to safety, Tampa has very little depth in the secondary and no margin for error with a potential suspension. This team resides in an NFC South neighborhood
which boasts quarterbacks Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, as well as top wideouts such as Marques Colston, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Steve Smith. For at least six games a year, this team will need it’s secondary playing at the highest possible level.

If the Bucs are going to compete for a playoff spot it will take a career year from Aqib Talib, something he’s capable of and apparently ready for.

Shipley Looking To Make A Comeback

In their quest to field the best football team possible, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley. Shipley was surprisingly let go after just two seasons as he was trying to recover from a torn ACL.

Shipley seemed to have found a home in Cincinnati as he was a reliable third-down target for the Bengals. The former Texas Longhorn caught 52 passes for 600 yards while starting just four games in 2010.

“I definitely felt like I was progressing out there,” Shipley said after Tuesday’s practice. “It felt like maybe it was a decision they had made before. I feel like I was coming along, doing good and progressing, but that’s good because now I’ll be ready to go here.”

Sources out of Cincinnati say Shipley’s knee hasn’t responded at the rate the team was hoping for after surgery and the emergence of players such as Armon Binns led to Shipley’s release. Jordan insists that his knee is fine.

Shipley will compete with Preston Parker for slot-receiver duties and even with missing much of last season, Shipley has the more full resume. Jordan played largely in the slot while at the University of Texas where he and Colt McCoy set a then NCAA record for most career victories.

“I think I just have a feel for it,” Shipley said of playing in the slot. “I think it comes naturally to me. Obviously, you get open and catch the ball, and those are two things that I love to do.”

This is virtually a no-risk, potentially high reward move for the Bucs. If Shipley returns to his 2010 form then Josh Freeman has yet another weapon at his disposal. If Jordan’s explosiveness is lost then it cost virtually nothing for Greg Schiano to give him a shot.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for and
ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive,
covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has
been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie