Patriots, CB Talib prepare for Bengals, WR Green

New England’s Aqib Talib quieted one of the top receivers in the
league last week. All the Patriots’ shutdown cornerback has to do
this week, is exactly that all over again.

After blanketing Atlanta’s Julio Jones during New England’s
30-23 victory Sunday night, Talib will now draw Cincinnati’s A.J.
Green when the Patriots (4-0) meet the Bengals (2-2) on Sunday.

Jones entered his clash with Talib tied for the NFL lead in
receptions with 27, while amassing a league-leading 373 yards.
Talib held him to just three catches for 22 yards on his first 10
targets, and hauled in a key interception on a deep pass – intended
for Jones – in the fourth quarter.

Despite a struggle last week against Cleveland, Green enters
Sunday with 26 catches, 300 yards and three touchdowns. It’ll be
another Talib test.

”This isn’t my second game of the season, or my life or
nothing,” Talib said. ”I’ve been doing it for a while now.”

Talib takes pride in his work week, noting that the film
sessions, and the workouts – both physical and mental – never end
regardless if he’s preparing for Jones, Green or anyone else.

”Julio Jones was done at about 12 o’ clock on Sunday,” Talib
said, meaning midnight, around the time the Falcons’ loss to the
Patriots ended. ”Me personally, to be honest, I go home, I watch
the tape, be up all night, and before I go to sleep, the next thing
I watched was Cincinnati.

”So, I’ve been off Atlanta. It’s been Cincinnati since early
Monday morning.”

Perhaps that’s why the Patriots traded a fourth-round pick to
Tampa Bay for Talib last season, and then signed him to a one-year
deal in the offseason. He’s proven worthy so far, helping shore up
a porous pass defense. He already has four interceptions this
season.

”Aqib has done a good job for us,” New England coach Bill
Belichick said. ”Smart player, good communicator, really competes
hard, really competes well everyday in practice and competes well
on the field.

”Whatever he’s asked to do – man coverage, zone coverage,
tackling, special teams, whatever – he really works hard, competes
hard and is a smart guy with good skills.”

Green was drafted two spots before Jones in 2011. He has helped
lead a Bengals’ resurgence on offense, though he was held to 51
yards on seven catches vs. the Browns.

”He’s A.J. Green. He brings his own stuff to the table,” Talib
said, comparing him to Jones. ”He has his own quarterback. He’s
just different.”

Patriots safety Devin McCourty, however, holds the two in the
same regard.

”They’re both great players,” he said. ”They both do a great
job for their team, going up, getting the ball, making plays.
They’re more similar than different.”

While Talib has played a major part in the Patriots’ first 4-0
start since 2007, the defense still has plenty to work on before
becoming one of the league’s top-rated units.

”You’re all looking at all the positive stuff,” Talib said.
”We applaud the positives, but we really look at the negatives and
see how we can get better.”

Talib, too, has room for improvement. But where?

”We don’t want to expose that kind of information to
everybody,” Talib said with a grin. ”We kind of keep that
information to ourselves.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org