|Patriots, Brandon Meriweather are both moving on||09.05.11 at 8:58 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Less than 48 hours after the Patriots released safety Brandon Meriweather, it was clear both sides were putting the relationship in the rear view mirror: there was someone else at Meriweather’s old Gillette Stadium locker and a new person wearing his old No. 31. Meanwhile, Meriweather was meeting the media in Chicago and talking about a fresh start.
On Monday morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed Meriweather’s departure for the first time since New England decided to part ways with the former first-round pick as part of Saturday’s cutdown to 53 active players.
“I think each year is a new year, and I just don’t think you can pick teams, or pick your players based on what’s happened in the past,” Belichick said. “You have to pick them based on what you think is going to happen this year, and that’s relative to the competition, to the make of your team, and player’s performance. All of those are obviously a part of it.
“Brandon played a lot of good football for us. We kept the players this year that we felt would be the best make up for the 2011 team. It’s not the 2009 team; it’s the 2011 team, so those are the players that we’ve selected.”
Meanwhile, in his first day with the Bears, Meriweather told reporters that it felt “tremendous” to come in and be a part of Chicago’s defense.
“All the guys showed me a lot of love when I got here,’’ said Meriweather. “To be playing with an old teammate like Devin Hester [at the University of Miami], it just feels great.’’
In his four seasons in New England, Meriweather was a two-time Pro Bowler with 12 picks in four seasons, and the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder played in all 64 games with 40 starts over his first four NFL seasons with the Patriots. His best year likely came in 2009, when he earned his first Pro Bowl berth after finishing with career highs with 83 tackles and five interceptions.
Despite all that, he had what can best be described as an eventful career with the Patriots. The Miami product was a lightning rod for critics, who assailed him for his style of play (he admitted he liked to freelance) and his predilection for taking unnecessary risks.
However, despite the baggage, it was seen as something of a surprise because New England was perceived as being thin at the position when it made the move. The Patriots cut veteran safety James Sanders the week before, and are now left with just four safeties on the active roster: Patrick Chung, Sergio Brown, James Ihedigbo and Josh Barrett, and only one of them (Chung) have more than one year experience in the Patriots’ system.
Meriweather said he wasn’t shocked at the decision.
‘‘That’s between me and coach,” Meriweather told reporters. “I have a lot of respect for that organization. I have a lot of respect for Bill and the rest of the staff there. But that’s behind me now and I’m focused on being a Bear.’’
Meriweather said he chose the Bears because ‘‘I think it would be a good fit. The style of defense they play … I love coach Lovie [Smith] and the organization. I think it’s a first-class organization.
‘‘I expect to come in and do what ever the coach asks me to do,’’ said Meriweather. ‘‘If he asks me to play special teams, I expect to do that. I just want to come in and contribute any way I can.’’
Meriweather was asked if could be ready for the opener Sunday against Atlanta.
‘‘We’ll find out,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m going to try my best. I’m going to do a lot of studying, so we’ll find out.’’
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