Cornerback Aqib Talib's four-game suspension was completed and lifted by the NFL Monday. He was traded to New England by the Buccaneers more than a week ago.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick hasn't said much about his new defensive back over the last 11 days, choosing instead to focus "on the players who are here."
But Monday, the coach said Talib's acceptance into the fold has finally begun.
Im glad to have him. Were working with him," Belichick said. "Im sure that hell work hard to try to get caught up and well see where it all goes.
Given the unique situation surrounding the trade, New England's roster exemption for Talib has been extended to November 19 -- one week from today. The exemption is lifted when the Patriots activate him.
Belichick isn't concerned with calling this a special case, however.
The staff will work with the cornerback individually, hunker down for film study, and get Talib immersed in Patriots terminology. New England will hold its first practiced Wednesday and the hope is to get the cornerback in by then to be ready for Sunday's game against Indianapolis.
Is there added pressure because of the team's struggles in the secondary? Belichick sounded more interested in covering the basics.
"It's not about expectations or goals," he said. "We're in uncharted territory here with a new player on a new team."
There's a lot to learn on both sides.
Talib has been in Tampa Bay, an NFC team, for the duration of his four and a half year career. He's played against the Patriots once in that time.
Defensive back Devin McCourty admitted he knows little of his new teammate. The only thing he's sure of is that having an extra body, a talented one, in the secondary should help.
"We look forward to it; Wednesday he'll get here and we'll get out there to practice," McCourty said. "It'll be a big week for us. Just to get another guy out there who you know is a good player, it'll be exciting.
Jerod Mayo said something similar on his call. The linebacker, who was a first round pick as Talib was in 2008, remembers only an outline of his peer based off the few visits they made together.
"I just know he's competitive and he loves the game," said Mayo. "I'm not really sure as to how he plays the game, I just know he goes out there and plays hard every day. So we'll see what happens."