The first thing that strikes you about Aqib Talib isn't his size, though he is easily the biggest defensive back in New England's locker room.
It's not even his well-documented past, which has preceded him since being traded to the Patriots a couple of weeks ago.
It's his voice.
It's incongruously high-pitched and friendly for a player with such weighty baggage.
The 6-1, 205-pound cornerback smiled a huge grin, too, as he entertained reporters' questions Thursday for the first time as a member of the Patriots. He told them he was trying to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible to try to help his new club.
"I'm just coming and doing what's asked to be done. If that's help right away, then help right away," he remarked. "If that's help down the road, then that's help down the road."
Talib was acquired via trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 1, during New England's by week, but he couldn't report until this week because he was serving a league imposed suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substance policy.
"I did my best to stay in pretty good shape," Talib said of his month away from football. "So, I'm coming in early and leaving late just trying to learn the [Patriots'] system. I've been all right."
He also insisted that his checkered past was not among the topics he discussed when he and head coach Bill Belichick met for the first time since being traded to New England. He and Belichick had met before during the pre-draft process in 2008.
"We kind of just talked straight football. He didn't bring up the past. I didn't bring up the past. He didn't bring up the future. I didn't bring up the future. We're kind of just taking it one day a time.
"I'll let you guys deal with all the perceptions and all that," Talib added. "I'm just coming in and doing what's asked of me, trying to learn quick as possible and see what I can do to help."
Talib acknowledged that he was somewhat surprised, despite his off-field issues, to learn he'd been dealt from the Bucs to the Patriots. The only players he knew before arriving were linebacker Niko Koutouvides and fellow cornerback Kyle Arrington, both of whom played in Tampa earlier in their careers. However, he says he's receiving nothing but warm welcomes from everyone he's met thus far, including quarterback Tom Brady.
"Everybody as a group kind of did. Tom even came up, 'You need anything, man, just let me know.' Everyone's kind of welcomed me and told me if I need anything, give them a call.
"I'm just excited to help, excited to be a part of this organization, a great organization like this. And I'm excited," concluded Talib, "that Bill gave me the chance to come in and help.
"He's a great guy, great coach. About his business and he definitely knows how to win ball games."
And he's hoping Talib can help.
For more on Thursday's practice, including injury updates, please visit the PFW blog.