Bell tolls unexpectedly for Brandon Meriweather

Bell tolls unexpectedly for Brandon Meriweather
September 3, 2011, 8:25 pm
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By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran Despite all the very legible tea leaves and the paragraphs of writing on the wall, it just didn't seem reasonable to release Brandon Meriweather. No, he wasn't the Pro Bowl-caliber player his resume can claim he is,but neither was he an outright stiff. So, despite all the veteran safeties the team worked out and signed, and despite Meriweather playing late in the final preseason game, I figured he was safe. And he figured he was safe. "Why everybody feel like Im in trouble? he asked me Thursday night after the Patriots final preseason game. Hey, maybe they know something we dont. Maybe they know something that Belichick didnt tell us. He usually comes and tell us if theres something going on. Hes good with stuff like that so, you know, Im just going to keep working hard and keep playing.It seemed a bad sign for him to be running around with the scrubs in the second half, I told him. "Iwouldnt say that. Coaches want to see me play and the other guys play too. I wouldnt say its because Im going downhill or anything like that, its when Coach Belichick wanted to play me.I nodded and agreed. Of course that was it. Josh Barrett was on the field with Patrick Chung in the first half. Barrett had never played for the Patriots. He needed reps. And Sergio Brown was out there with Chung. Made sense. Get him some time as well. Meriweather's assets and limitations were well known after four seasons on the team. And with James Sanders released earlier in the week,Bill Belichick couldn't be cutting his most senior safety even if he was a bit of a clown at times. On Friday, Belichick indicated Meriweather had a good training camp. He discounted the fact Meriweather -- a first-round pick in 2007 -- was on the field in the second half - and added "(His camp) has been good. Brandon has been out there every day. Hes worked hard. Hes been able to do everything and I think hes gotten better, worked a lot on his man-to-man coverage. Hes out there practicing like everybody else is."Not anymore. Meriweather doesn't figure to be out of work long. Although there will be significant questions for him to overcome before another team hires him. Within minutes of his release becoming public, an NFC personnel man called me to ask, "What's the deal with Meriweather?"I told him Meriweather can play but that he's kind of immature and easily led. Not a bad kid but one who seems to put himself in strange spots off the field and on.For the Patriots, the question is simple. Now what? Chung is obviously a front-line safety. Brown and Barrett? Totally unproven. James Ihedigbo covers like a defensive tackle. The Patriots have a handful of talented corners and they don't get hung up on the cornersafety definition. Some players are simply hybrid defensive backs. Maybe that's their plan. Or maybe the plan is to scour the releases on Saturday and get a player somebody else gave up on to take a twirl here. Friday, I did some kicking around just to make sure my instincts were right. Meriweather wouldn't be cut. I was told it seemed a reasonable assumption, but to leave myself some wiggle room. Wiggle.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran