TAMPA, FLA. (AP) - Cornerback Aqib Talib has rejoined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing one day of practice to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the player’s role in an offseason shooting in Texas.
The fourth-year pro who’s arguably the team’s best defensive player is facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon following an incident in March in which police in the Dallas suburb of Garland say they believe the 25-year-old player and his mother shot at a man.
It’s not the first time Talib has gone before Goodell, who a year ago suspended the cornerback without pay for the 2010 regular season opener for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Talib also was fined one additional game stemming from an altercation with a cab driver in August 2009.
Talib practiced Wednesday, but declined to discussed specifics about his trip to New York on Tuesday.
“I met with the commissioner, but I’m going to keep all the details between me and the commissioner if ya’ll can respect that,” he said, repeating variations of his answer to several other questions about his visit with Goodell.
The man police say the player and his mother shot at was not injured. The Bucs have not said whether they anticipate another suspension.
Talib led the Bucs with six interceptions last season despite being disciplined for the opener and also sitting out the final four weeks after suffering a hip injury that’s also kept him out of the first two preseason games this year. He hopes to play in Saturday’s exhibition against the Miami Dolphins.
“I’m almost there. I’m trying to get healthy enough to play,” Talib said. “That’s my goal. I’m looking forward to it.”
Bucs coach Raheem Morris said this week that the team will be prepared to start the season with or without Talib in the lineup.
For me, it’s next man up. … There’s a reason you practice” and develop depth, the coach said.
While Talib shrugged off questions about whether he expects action from Goodell, he did answer one about how he has managed to remain focused on his job in training camp while also dealing with his situation off the field.
“It’s life. I’m sure you’ve got obstacles in your life that you’ve got to overcome,” the cornerback said. “My life is no different than either one of ya’ll. It’s obstacles, work. … You’ve got to know how to handle it.”
Morris said Talib participated in most of the drills during practice and getting closer to being ready for game action.
“He was a little rusty obviously, not really opening it up yet, not really going to the wall, but I’d like to think he’s getting closer,” the coach said.
Morris also said he is not concerned Talib’s ability to keep his mind on football.