Patriots represent a second fresh start for Talib

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Patriots represent a second fresh start for Talib

Greg Schiano admitted he was concerned. But the first-year Tampa Bay coach chose an optimistic outlook when it came to Aqib Talib.

"Well, any time you have a guy where there's an off-the-field situation that could affect his on-the-field situation, you're concerned,'' he said in the Tampa Bay Times after charges of assault with a deadly weapon against Talib -- the third incident (including two arrests) on record since he entered the NFL in 2008 -- were dropped in June.

But Schiano decided to focus on the Aqib Talib he'd dealt with since becoming coach, not the one he'd heard about.

"The thing that I can tell you is since I arrived here January 26, he's been awesome," Schiano said. "The way he's worked, he's been here every day. I hope that it's left behind him and there isn't anything and that we can move forward because, again, I can only judge people since I've been involved.
"I can't stick my head in the sand, as I've said before, but on the other hand . . . he's been extremely focused and here, doing everything that we asked. So I'm pleased with that and hope everything can just kind of sort itself out and we can get back to life . . . normal situation.''
Talib escaped the potential 20-year jail sentence. After dismissal of the charges, he promised he'd fly right.
Clean slate, clean start, Talib told an Atlanta radio station. Got the little situation behind me, man, so Im just forward from now on.
He drew hope from Schiano. The way Talib tells it, former coach Raheem Morris wasn't much of a disciplinarian.
It got a little loose last year where people got a little too loose around the building, he said. So Schiano definitely came in and brought that order back to the building.
All went well for a while.
Talib started all four of Tampa's September games. He had 21 total tackles, seven passes defensed, one interception, and a blocked punt.
But then came the suspension. A violation of the league's policy on PED's earned Talib a four-game ban on October 13. Instead of fighting, the corner confirmed the positive test for Adderall so he could return to game play as soon as possible.
His apology was part of the team's official statement:
Around the beginning of training camp, I made a mistake by taking an Adderall pill without a prescription," explained Talib. " This is especially regrettable because, for the past several months, with Coach Schianos help, Ive worked very hard to improve myself -- professionally and personally -- as a player and a man. I am truly sorry to my teammates, coaches and Buccaneers fans, and Im disappointed in myself.
"I will work diligently every day of this suspension to stay in top football shape and be ready to help this team in the second half of the season. I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation I put myself in, which is why I will not exercise my appeal rights and will begin serving the suspension immediately.
Schiano was forced into an unenviable position. But when the coach was asked after Tampa's 38-10 win over Kansas City what his feeling on Talib was, he appeared to stick by his guy.
When Aqibs suspension is up, I really believe hell work hard and be ready. And then well go from there, said Schiano.
When he gets back, then we go with him. But when hes away, Im really, really proud of the way E.J Biggers stepped up. And everybody. Its a trickle-down effect. Guys didnt miss a beat. They went out and played Buccaneer defense."
Tampa won all three of its games -- against the Chiefs, Saints, and Vikings -- played in Talib's absence. Perhaps that made it easier to let go.
Now it's up to the Patriots to see if there's enough reason to hold on.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."