By: Jeff Howe, Patriots Notebook
PHILADELPHIA — The most electric one-on-one matchup during this week’s joint practices between the Patriots and Eagles has involved cornerback Aqib Talib and wide receiver DeSean Jackson.They have been close friends for years after crossing paths in college, and their professional tussles on the field have been have loud, exciting and competitive.
[dropcap][/dropcap]Talib has sustained his summer dominance when lined up against the Eagles’ other receivers, but Jackson might have the edge on the Patriots corner. Of course, when Jackson is playing at full speed, he’s one of the most difficult coverage assignments in the league. His greatest moments have come while burning Talib on extended crossing patterns because of the speed mismatch, but when they tangle at the line or down the field, Talib has won with his physicality. “Honestly, he’s just a big corner,” Jackson said yesterday. “He has size. He’s physical. He has technique. He’s been playing the spot like that for six years in the NFL. Any time you’re able to do that and have experience, it’s a good thing to have in a corner. “I’m the type of receiver who goes out there, regardless of who is covering me, try to go out there and beat whoever is in front of me. That’s what a great receiver does. The competition was obviously at a high level. He’s talking stuff. I’m talking stuff. But it’s a good, friendly competition.”Talib unloaded a loud bellow after swatting away a pass to Jackson during Tuesday’s practice, and Jackson has been heard chirping back at Talib after making catches. “We’ve got a really cool relationship,” Jackson said. “We’re good friends. It’s all respect for him. Just to motivate each other sometimes like, ‘Come on, man, get your butt up here and guard me.’ Sometimes he’s like, ‘Man, I’m going to shut you down.’ It’s friendly competition. He’s a good corner, and I have a good time going against him.”
Talib has been a tough matchup for Patriots receivers during camp, and he obviously enjoys the chance to play against bigger wide outs like Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans. But Jackson’s burning speed presents a different challenge for Talib, and it should help the coaches determine how to cover similar receivers this season, especially while they still try to learn more about Talib’s strengths and weaknesses. “It’s been good work,” Talib said. “He’s one of the most dynamic receivers in the league. You’ve definitely got to be on your toes when you guard him. He’ll get out there and run away from you. It’s definitely good work. “The mutual respect, especially at this point on the calendar, has made the competition even more fun to watch.[dropcap][/dropcap]
Talib and Jackson hope it benefits both players during the season. “He’s a top corner in the NFL,” Jackson said. “I don’t know about an exact (rank), but I feel he’s a top corner in the NFL. He’s proven it, and he’s been in the league for a number of years going out there and doing his thing. It’s a good thing they have him. “Brady still strong Tom Brady’s numbers looked a little more human yesterday, but they still were impressive, especially in drills. The quarterback completed 11-of-16 passes in one-on-one drills, 6-of-8 passes in 7-on-7s and 20-of-26 in 11-on-11s. That brought his two-day total to 31-of-36 in one-on-ones, 13-of-15 in 7-on-7s and 37-of-47 in 11-on-11s.
Jones hangs ’em up Wide receiver Donald Jones, who spent the offseason program with the Patriots, announced his retirement because of his battle with kidney disease. The Pats released Jones before training camp. Jones issued a 186-word statement that explained his situation and thanked the Bills for the previous three seasons before mentioning the Patriots. “I also want to thank the New England Patriots and their doctors for assisting my medical team in fighting this disease,” Jones wrote. “Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.”
The Patriots waived receiver Lavasier Tuinei with an injury settlement. Tuinei practiced twice last week before hurting his shoulder. –
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