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.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Raptors in Toronto. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

TORONTO – The decision to stand pat at the trade deadline for the Boston Celtics was made in part because they felt that as their roster is constructed, they can hold their own with anybody.

We’re going to find out just how true that is tonight as they face a revamped Toronto Raptors team that added a couple of notable players via trade, chief among them being Serge Ibaka from Orlando.

“That was a really good trade for them,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Bringing in a guy like Serge Ibaka; a defender, a four-man that can switch out on guards. A guy that can space the floor, shoot the 3.  So that was a good addition. I’m excited to see how that’s gonna work other than tomorrow.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was also impressed with the Ibaka trade.

“That’s an improvement; there’s no question about it,” Stevens said. “Now you can play a number of different ways. He’s a really good player; he’s very agile. He’s a very good shooter. You can play him or (Patrick) Patterson at the four (power forward) the entire game now. You can play them together as a small-ball four and five (center). It gives them a lot of options on offense and defense.”

While praise for Ibaka is nothing new, you have to remember there were reasons as to why the Magic decided to give up on him so quickly, something even more hard to understand considering the assets they gave up (Victor Olidipo and a 2016 first-round pick used to select Domantas Sabonis, among others) to acquire him.

The Magic decided that they would not be in the running to re-sign Ibaka when he hits the free agent market this summer; this coming after the Thunder traded him primarily because they did not plan on giving him the near-max contract he’ll be seeking. So rather than play out this season and lose him for nothing, the Magic decided to trade him while they still could get something (Terrence Ross) in return.

While in Orlando, Ibaka averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game. For his career (all prior to this season spent in Oklahoma City), he’s averaging 11.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

But he never seemed to provide the kind of impactful, difference-making play that Orlando was seeking.

And while the Celtics speak highly of Ibaka, he hasn’t been much of a problem for the Celtics this season.

In two games against Boston, Ibaka has averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Jae Crowder believes the struggles Ibaka has endured against the Celtics, are not a clear reflection of what he’s capable of doing as a player.

“For sure it makes them better,” said Crowder in describing the Raptors with Ibaka. “He’s a guy that can stretch the floor and rebound at a high rate. We know what he brings to the table.”

And those struggles we saw of him with the Magic?

“I think it was him more so than us,” Crowder said. “I give him credit because he wasn’t playing with the energy and passion he usually brings. I’ve been able to line up against him a quite a few times.  He didn’t have that passion like he did when he was in O-K-C (Oklahoma City). Maybe he’ll have it now. I know exactly what he’s capable of doing; he’s capable of changing the game with his play.”