Cornerback Aqib Talib, acquired from the Buccaneers in exchange for a 2013 fourth-round draft pick, arrived in Foxborough Monday and met with Patriots coach Bill Belichick after completing his four-game NFL suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances.
At the time of his acquisition at the NFL’s trading deadline Nov. 1, Talib was still under suspension and barred by the league from having any interaction with the team until Monday. Now that he has served his suspension, Talib will be allowed to join the Patriots this week to begin preparations for Sunday’s game against the Colts at Gillette Stadium.
While the Patriots received a roster exemption for Talib, which expires next Monday, the team cleared room on the 53-man roster for the 6-foot-1-inch, 205-pound sixth-year cornerback by releasing linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, who had been promoted from the practice squad Oct. 20 and played in three games, mostly on special teams.
“We look forward to Wednesday [when] he’ll get here and we’ll get to get out there and practice and he’ll be a part of the team,’’ said safety Devin McCourty.
Next up for the Patriots is a 6-3 Colts team led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 draft.
“It’ll be a big week for us and a big game for us against the Colts,’’ McCourty said when asked about the addition of Talib to a defense that allowed 481 yards to the Bills. “To get another guy out there that you know is a good player, it will be exciting. We’ll have to draw some chemistry and go out there and play well this weekend.’’
Belichick, however, was uncertain how much of an immediate contribution Talib was expected to make this week in the secondary.
“We’ll just have to see,’’ Belichick said during a conference call Monday. “We’re not going to be on the practice field until Wednesday and so we’ll go out there Wednesday and see what it looks like. We’ll spend time with him, trying to get him caught up in some terminology, scheme, and that type of thing. We’ll see how all that comes together as we move forward in our preparations. I don’t really know how it will turn out.’’
Asked about the difficulty of assimilating a new player into the system at midseason, Belichick said, “I think you take each player individually and each situation individually. We had guys like [Danny] Woodhead a couple years ago, James Ihedigbo last year, come in and be solid contributors. We could go right down the line. I don’t really know.
“It’s not about expectations or goals or landmarks. We’re in uncharted territory here. We have a new player coming on to a new team. We’re glad to have him, we’re working with him. I’m sure that he’ll work hard to try to get caught up. We’ll see where it all goes.’’
Spike in animosity
Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes did not win any friends among the Bills after he slammed into quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s victory, drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty.
Fitzpatrick, who angrily reacted at Spikes after his hit, called out the Patriots linebacker, saying afterward, “I think he’s a punk some times.’’ He also cited a hard hit Spikes had on tight end Scott Chandler in the first meeting between AFC East foes in Buffalo Sept. 30.
Asked if he took exception to Fitzpatrick’s caustic remarks about Spikes, linebacker Jerod Mayo tried to take the high road.
“To be honest with you, we’ve played these guys twice this year and you know we’ve kind of put them in the rearview mirror now and our focus is on the Colts,’’ Mayo said. “Everyone has their own opinion about each and every player in the league. I’m sure Spikes doesn’t really pay attention to it either.
“We’re moving on to the Colts and that’s where our focus is.’’
A star for Woodhead
While Belichick said his study of Sunday’s game film provided glimpses of “some good things in the game and some other things that certainly could be better,’’ the play of Woodhead, who recorded the first two-touchdown game of his career, certainly fell on the positive side of the ledger.
The running back recorded a 15-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter and an 18-yard scoring reception in the third.
“Danny has been consistent for us, has been productive for us for three years now,’’ Belichick said. “He’s done a good job of taking advantage of his opportunities. He only had one carry [Sunday], but it was a big one.
“He’s a guy that knows his role and is prepared and when you need him,’’ Belichick said. “I think we’ve been able to count on him to step up and make the plays that he has given the opportunity that is presented. He’s gained all of our confidence in doing that a number of times; he did it again yesterday. It’s always great to see that.’’
No safety issue
With Talib in the fold, and expected to spend the majority of his time at corner, McCourty was asked if he was likely to remain at safety for the remainder of the season. “Like I said after the game, I’m getting more and more comfortable at playing safety, the more snaps I get,’’ McCourty said. “Coach is always telling me to be ready to play safety or corner, whatever the team needs me to do.’’ . . . The Patriots made a bit of franchise history Sunday when the team recorded a household TV rating of 32.12. It marked the first time the team drew a plus-30 rating in each of the first nine games of a season. It also extended the team’s streak of 24 consecutive games with a plus-30 rating.