Talib says life is 'better' since he landed with Pats

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Talib says life is 'better' since he landed with Pats

FOXBORO - The importance of Aqib Talib to the Patriots is shown by the responsibilities he shoulders.

On Sunday, playing in his first career playoff game, he was manned up with the great Texans receiver Andre Johnson. The Patriots don't often sic a corner on one specific receiver but Talib has been asked to do it twice now against the Texans - December 10 and Sunday.

Both times, Talib fought Johnson to a draw. Sunday, Johnson finished with eight catches for 95 yards. In today's NFL, that's about as well as you can do in a game where the quarterback throws it 54 times and is playing catch-up most of the game.

"It was a great battle; its two good football players," Bill Belichick said after the Patriots 41-28 win. "Johnson is a great receiver. Hes arguably one or two all-time (ed. note: I don't think he meant that...), hes tremendous. Hes big, fast, has great hands, good route runner. Aqib competed with him every down, just like he did the first half of the first game. Thats two good football players and thats a battle. We didnt give him a lot of help. Johnson caught a few but Aqib battled him pretty well there. It was a good matchup."

"It's football, man," answered Talib in his twangy cadence. "As a corner, a lot of time you draw that job. I'm definitely honored."

The 26-year-old Talib was traded to New England in October because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were sick of dealing with him. Since joining Tampa as a first-rounder in 2008, he'd been in frequent trouble both with the law and within the league.

When New England acquired Talib, he was still on suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

For a player whose career was headed off a cliff, Talib has - at least for now - grabbed onto a branch and it climbing back up.

"This is what you play for, man.. You don't play to play 16 and go home, you play to get in the tournament you know and try to win it all," Talib said when asked to reflect on where he's gotten. "Bill gave me a chance to come here and I got a chance to play in the tournament, man, so I'm very thankful."

Asked if life has gotten simpler since he's been in New England, Talib said, "It's a lot better. I wouldn't say simplified. I'd say it's a lot better. It's a lot better, man, getting to work for Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, it's a lot better."

At the end of this season, Talib will be a free agent. His work here has showcased that he's a very capable corner. The market for his services will likely be high. Whether New England is the right fit for him for the long-term, Talib wouldn't say.

"Right now I'm a Patriot, man," he said. "I'm a Patriot and next week we got the Ravens. I put (the future) in God's hands. He's the best planner, man, that's what my momma told me."

Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

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Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

When Dominique Easley was released by the Patriots this spring, it wasn't because he wasn't productive when he was on the field. In fact, on a per-snap basis, he was one of the most productive interior pass-rushers in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Instead, there were some off-the-field factors, as well as injury concerns, that led to the Patriots choosing to cut ties with their 2014 first-round pick. 

As our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran put it, there were "philosophical differences" between Easley and the team.

Other, more scathing reports of Easley's impact in New England were released, including one report from the Boston Globe that included a quote from a former teammate saying he was a "locker room cancer."

Since then, Easley has landed with the Rams and has a chance to contribute to one of the most talented defensive lines in football. In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Phil Savage and Amber Theoharis, Easley said he hopes that his new team will get to see that he's a better person than some have indicated.

"Just really," Easley said, "just hopefully that the Rams get to see what a great person and a great hardworker I am, and really, just a great person."

Easley went on to say that he's not sure who would speak of him negatively or why. He explained that it's not his "main goal" to prove there's nothing to worry about with his character, but clearly it's somewhere on the list. 

"There's been, obviously, stuff said about me," Easley said. "We don't know where it came from. I would say the person doesn't want to come out and say it, neither. As far as I know, it's all rumors until that person comes out and say that it was from them, and they can prove that they actually know who I am, or been around me long enough to know who I am and how I am as a person."

PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

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PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

Peyton Manning is retired, but that doesn't mean he's exempt from the interviews that the NFL plans to conduct as it looks into the allegations made by Al Jazeera's December PED documentary. 

It was reported last week by USA Today that the league's senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch informed the NFLPA that players named in Al Jazeera's report would be interviewed in July. 

Among those scheduled to be interviewed are Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Former Packers linebacker Mike Neal will also be interviewed.

(Harrison has taken issue with the league's request, and said on social media that he would only meet with the league if commissioner Roger Goodell showed up to his home.)

Manning was not mentioned in the letter obtained by USA Today detailing the league's interview plans, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk followed up on Monday to see if the NFL intended to speak with Manning. It does.

The former Broncos and Colts quarterback has been very vocal about just how strongly he denies Al Jazeera's claim that his wife, Ashley, received HGH for his use. Despite the fact that he's no longer playing, it will come as no surprise if, given his stance, Manning cooperates fully with the league as it seeks more information regarding the report. 

As Florio points out, if Manning hopes to return to the NFL at some point as an executive -- as many believe he will -- this is something he'll want to put to bed beforehand. That process will start with an interview.