EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 2, 2012

Waters is the unsung MVP for Pats

Bill Burt

FOXBORO — In terms of the new additions in 2011, Brian Waters doesn't sack the quarterback or intercept passes.

In other words, you wouldn't know the first-year New England Patriot if you walked into him.

Lost in all of the hype about the recent personnel hits (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Andre Carter, Stevan Ridley and Nick Solder) and misses (several defensive backs, Shaun Ellis and Chad Ochocinco), Waters might be Belichick's biggest coup.

Last night, amid all of the record-breaking (Gronkowski's 1,327 yards, Wes Welker's 122 receptions, Belichick's fifth 13-win season, etc.) was a quiet team record yesterday broken by Waters.

He was the only Patriot offensive lineman to play in all 16 games.

It shows a few things: One, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is amazing; and two, Waters is amazing, too.

Waters, who signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1999 before joining the Chiefs in 2000 for 11 seasons, was bordering on over-the-hill when he arrived here eight days before the Monday night opener against the Dolphins. Despite not allowing a sack in the regular season and gaining a Pro Bowl berth last season, he struggled in the last two regular season games and allowed a sack in the Kansas City Chiefs playoff loss to Baltimore.

The other potential issue was the fact that Waters would be moving from his left guard position to right guard with the Patriots.

Belichick eventually signed the 34-year-old five-year Pro Bowl player to a two-year deal for about $5.5 million, guaranteeing a little more than half of that.

Before he actually signed the deal he called a few of his Chiefs' homies who spent lots of time in Foxboro.

"Of course, you have a perception of this place, about Belichick and everything," said Waters. "I talked to (Mike) Vrabel and (Matt Cassel) and asked them about what it was like here. They told me it's different here. They both said I'd love it."

And?

"They were so right," he said after yesterday's second-half blitzing of the Buffalo Bills, 49-21, which the Patriots scored 49 straight points.

"I'm proud to play with these guys," said Waters, still perspiring 30 minutes after the game and after his shower. "I've been a lot of places were people don't care. Here, people care — the organization, the owner, the fans, the media ... everyone. It's an amazing feeling to be a part of this."

While left tackle Matt Light and left guard Logan Mankins have been the faces of this successful offensive line during the Patriots Dynasty, word has it that Waters graded out better than all of them, not to mention the fact he missed only a few snaps the entire season.

That should not be a surprise. Waters has missed only three games since the 2001 season.

"I pride myself in playing (every game)," said Waters. "This is a tough business, but I come to work every day and give it my best. I'm happy I am healthy."

Waters said he had views of the Patriots organization that are slightly different from his perspective inside the confines of Gillette Stadium.

"I looked at the Patriots a little differently (when I wasn't here), probably more out of envy," said Waters. "They had all of that success. But I knew there was something special. I knew there was a professionalism about the organization. It really is special."

Waters admits he gets calls from some of his "buds" in the NFL inquiring about the "Patriots mystique" and, of course, the head coach.

What does he tell them?

"I tell them the truth, that this is a place every player should experience," said Waters. "I tell people a lot is expected of you here. You had better have the right attitude and put in the work or you won't last."

And what does he tell his friends about Belichick?

"I tell them truth," said Waters, breaking out in a smile. "But I'm not telling you. That's something you'll have to figure out yourself."

Can a guy who has played only 16 of his 179 games with the Patriots be considered a true Patriot?

You better believe it.

"I am privileged to be part of this team and this offense," said Waters. "It's an amazing group, a couple of guys who will eventually be wearing those gold (Hall of Fame) jackets."

He shouldn't sell himself short. Waters, with some help from Belichick, might be sized up for a gold jacket some day, too.

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You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.