FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England cornerback Aqib Talib, who missed three games with a hip injury, says he’s eager to return for the Patriots’ game Monday night against the Carolina Panthers.

Talib spoke after practice Thursday for the first time since leaving New England’s win over New Orleans on Oct. 13. He says practices have been good and the Patriots’ bye last week came at the right time.

Talib leads the team with four interceptions. He helped contain New Orleans’ tight end Jimmy Graham, who leads all receivers with 10 touchdowns. He was held without a catch against the Patriots.

Talib likely will be matched up with veteran receiver Steve Smith this week.