For the first four games, McCourty and Kyle Arrington started at cornerback with Gregory and Patrick Chung at safety. Rookie second-round pick Tavon Wilson started for the injured Gregory the next two games. Then, with Chung sidelined for the seventh game, McCourty moved to safety and Dennard started at cornerback.
Gregory returned for the ninth game when the Patriots had their fourth different starting secondary of the season. Then coach Bill Belichick acquired Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he made his Patriots debut last Sunday after completing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
“As if they need another great player,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “With Belichick, he does a lot of different things on defense to take advantage of players’ talents. It’s going to be really interesting to see what he does with Talib because, if his first game is any indication, that’s not bad. You know, get an interception for a touchdown. I really thought (Belichick) should have waited until after we played to play this young man, though.”
Talib knows he made mistakes. He gave up two touchdown receptions by T.Y. Hilton, in fact.
On the second, “I had my eyes in the wrong spot, eyes exactly where they shouldn’t be,” he said, “on the quarterback. So I watched him throw a touchdown on me.”
But after sitting out more than a month with the suspension and trying to adjust to a new team, he expects to improve as he gets used to Belichick’s system.
“Aqib did some good things in the game. There are other things that he’ll work on,” Belichick said. “I think as our group plays together this week and the next game and so forth, hopefully our overall execution as a (defensive) unit can improve. Obviously, we haven’t had a chance to do that with him other than a couple days last week.”