Mike Lombardi of the NFL Network made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, and he had positive things to say about the Patriots' acquisition of controversial cornerback Aqib Talib a day earlier.
"I think every trade you make is risk-reward, and you have to evaluate that," Lombardi said. "Clearly, with Talib you've got some issues that have to be handled off the field, and his rap sheet is long and it becomes effective. But I think you have to ask the question: Does it affect him on the field? And I'm not endorsing anything he's done off the field, by no means, but I think you have to ask the fundamental question: Does he like football, is football important to him? And if you can get to that answer correctly -- and I'm not sure anybody has. … The risk is there, but I think the reward far outweighs that."
Looking at where Talib fits in on this Patriots team, Lombardi said the former Buccaneer should make an immediate impact once he completes his suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
"When he finally shows up in Foxboro, he will be by far -- and I say this by far -- the best defensive back on the Patriots team," Lombardi said. "He also has great size. He plays the style of football that Belichick wants: He's very physical at the line of scrimmage, he can jam people, he's tough, he can tackle, he can play big receivers. … You can match this player up on the best receiver for any of those [top AFC] teams and feel like he can take them out of the game and win that matchup. So, I think that certainly is why his talent level is needed in New England."
Lombardi, who worked alongside Bill Belichick with the Browns in the early 1990s, said the coach won't shy away from addressing any issues with Talib when they meet for the first time.
"One of Belichick's great strengths is he doesn't mind confrontation. … He enjoys confrontation," Lombardi said. "I think Bill will lay it out very clearly to him. He'll put it right on the table to him. He'll tell him what he expects without any reservation. And he'll tell him what he wants the kid to do moving forward. And I think if the kid accepts it and listens to it, then obviously it will be a good situation.
"I've read the quotes that the kid made after he was suspended, and I've seen his work ethic this year on the field. Last year he was a disaster with [then Bucs coach] Raheem Morris. This year he looked like he played like football was important to him. What player are they getting? You'd like to think you're getting a guy who wants to prove to everybody he can cover."
Talib isn't expected to have many issues adapting to the Patriots defense.
"I don't think it will be very difficult at all for him," Lombardi said. "He played on either side. … He can play right or left corner. He plays outside corner and he plays jam corner. That fits perfectly into what they do in New England. He's going to get up there with [Alfonzo] Dennard and [as] outside corners now, you've got two guys that will be physical at the line of scrimmage, disrupt the passing game and perhaps be able to take out one of the better receivers, whether it's Denver, Houston or whomever they have to play. So, I think it will be a fairly easy scheme for him to adjust to."
Added Lombardi: "He can flat-out cover."