Brandon Meriweather gets audience with Smith four years later

Brandon Meriweather signed a one-year contract with the Bears on Monday, but it wasn’t the first time the hard-hitting safety from the University of Miami wanted to join the team.

Aware that he was entering the 2007 NFL Draft with character concerns, Meriweather called Lovie Smith and invited the Bears coach down to Miami to spend a day getting to know him.

While Smith politely declined the offer, he was thrilled to land Meriweather four years later.

“He’s just a good football player,” Smith said. “He can hit. He’s got excellent ball skills, can change directions; all the things we’re looking for in a defensive back.

“He’s got a good pedigree too. You look at where he’s from. Devin Hester, knowing him quite well, said a lot of good things about him. We did research and felt like he was a good fit.”

After spending his first four seasons with the Patriots, Meriweather was released by New England on Saturday. He played in all 64 games with 40 starts, recording 261 tackles and 12 interceptions, and was named to the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons.

Meriweather was offered more money elsewhere, but decided to sign with the Bears.

“It feels tremendous to come in,” he said. “All the guys showed me a lot of love when I got here. To be playing with an old [college] teammate like Devin Hester again, it just feels great. I just thought it would be a good fit. I love coach Lovie and the organization is a first-class organization.”
While he likely will challenge second-year pro Major Wright for the starting free safety position, Meriweather knows that he won’t be handed the job.

“I expect to come in and do whatever the coach asks me to do,” Meriweather said. “If he comes in and asks me to play all special teams, I expect to do that. I just want to come in and contribute any way I can.”

Meriweather was honest when asked how long it would take him to learn the Bears defense.

“I have never been traded or released and I never had to come into a new system besides my rookie year, so I don’t know,’ he said. “I can’t answer that.”

Asked whether he would be ready to contribute in Sunday’s season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, he said: “We’ll find out. I am going to try to do my best. I am going to do a lot of studying.”

While learning a new system isn’t easy, Smith expects Meriweather to make a smooth transition.

“We do things differently, we call things differently,” said the Bears coach. “But once you kind of get by some of the different terminology, most coverages are pretty much the same.

“Most defenses are pretty much gap control. When the ball’s in the air, you go get it. When a guy’s running with the ball, you go tackle him. There will be some challenges, but when you have a veteran like that they normally pick it up pretty quick.”

Meriweather has received a warm reception from his new teammates.

“He’s a certified playmaker,” said veteran safety Chris Harris. “The guy has made plays his entire career, so anytime you can get a guy of that caliber on your roster, I think it definitely makes your team better.

“Competition raises everybody’s level of play. Anytime you bring a guy in at your position, competition is great. It only makes your level of play better and therefore it’s going to make the team’s play better.”

Click here to order Brandon Meriweather’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus