Training camp is where coaches get to see the new players fit in but it's also where injuries can sink a season. The Cincinnati Bengals face that with their secondary. Could they make a push for help in Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner Aqib Talib?
Few teams had the promising depth in the back-end of their defense like Cincinnati did after the NFL draft. It didn't take long for that depth to get tested either. Barely two weeks into training camp and thinks keep getting bleaker for the Bengals cornerbacks. Leon Hall comes off a torn Achilles, Nate Clements hasn't fully recovered from a groin injury, Adam Jones hasn't practiced with a strained calf and first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick still hasn't returned from a fractured knee. If all that weren't bad enough, fifth-round pick Shaun Prater got the worst of it with a knee injury that knocks him out for the 2012 season. In a division and conference thick with passing offenses, the Cincinnati Bengals can't afford losing too many corners or they risk putting second-year quarterback Andy Dalton in the mode of having to score just to keep up in games. Should the team hold steady and hope their players heal or can they find some insurance?
Buccaneers culture change means Talib likely to hit NFL free agency
One player that would fit right in with the Cincinnati mold is Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner Aqib Talib. Talented for sure, the young player instead has drawn attention for his encounters with the law than plays on the field. Among his many headlines include a settled court case for punching a cab driver, trying to hit a teammate with a helmet, and most recently charges of felony battery. Thankfully for him, those got dropped and he has had time to relax under the eye of new head coach Greg Schiano. For the time being, he hasn't had a problem but that can change in a hurry, especially since Schiano continues to make roster changes towards a more character-driven team. Talib doesn't fit that mold given his history and might find himself traded before he enters free agency next season. Someone like the Bengals is perfect for him. Head coach Marvin Lewis is good at bringing in troubled players to straighten them out. He did it with running back Cedric Benson after Chicago released him for two arrests and again with Adam Jones and his laundry list of problems. Talib may find Lewis and Cincinnati a welcoming home.
Cincinnati doesn't need to panic yet but losing Shaun Prater and a hobbled Dre Kirkpatrick could make life difficult for the defense. Aqib Talib wants to stay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but if he doesn't then he could have a new home in Ohio.