Curran: Mulling Meriweather's Patriots future


Curran: Mulling Meriweather's Patriots future

By Tom E. Curran

The good news for Brandon Meriweather? The 2011 draft class is short on safeties. One canassumethe New England Patriots hate when their employees get themselves involved in a story where the words "shot," "two men," "head" and, of course, "Patriots" are repeated over and over. It's bad for the Patriots brand and bad for that employees long-term prospects. Yet that's what's happened with Meriweather since a story broke on that a well-known Florida personal injury attorney had two clients fingering Meriweather as the guy who shot them during a fracas. How will the Patriots react to this? That's really what's pertinent to the general public since Meriweather is only in our consciousness because of his football talent.Let us analyze. First off, contrary to public perception, Meriweather hasn't really done anything during his time in New England to advance the thug image he brought with him from the University of Miami. He executed a dirty hit on Baltimore's Todd Heap last year during a game. That's the extent of his rap sheet here. When he came to the Patriots as a first-round pick out of the University of Miamiin 2007, he was fresh off incriminating video of himself trying to stomp opponents during an on-field brawl with Florida International University (Meriweather is No. 19). That happened months after Meriweather shot - legally - at an individual who fired a bullet into his roommate Willie Cooper's buttocks. So while one can assume that he had a short leash in terms of behavior, he hadn't even pulled at the leash in his first four seasons here. Until this story bubbled up. Whether Meriweather was acting as peacemaker, as an anonymous eyewitness told the Boston Globe, or was just an onlooker, the Patriots will certainly be harsh on Meriweather for his mere presence in the situation.If it was going bad at the Blue Jeans Lounge, it was probably time to call it a night right then instead of heading back for a house party, which is where the shooting allegedly took place. Did Meriweather have a right to be out with his friends and cousins? Of course. Does that mean it was the right place to be? Doesn't seem so.(I make this judgment as a veteran of being in spots that I had a right to be in but weren't the right place to be.)Often, a players' off-field missteps are viewed by their team in terms of how valuable he is to the team. Meriweather, who is entering the final year of his contract, has been to the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons, In 2009, he was an alternate and got in when others weren't able to go. In 2010, he was selected despite being the third-best safety on the Patriots and seeing his playing time cut drastically in the middle of the season. He admitted to "doing his own thing" instead of executing the defense which is a reason his time was cut. To sum it up, he's a talented player who hasn't reached his potential. He's not a leader in the locker room and doesn't ooze (or even give off a whiff) of the professionalism secondary mates like James Sanders, Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and Leigh Bodden do.If he shot the gun, he's probably done in New England before the 2011 season starts. If he didn't, he'll be done after the 2011 seasons ends.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”