EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 5, 2011

Meriweather failed final test miserably

On Pro Football
Hector Longo

Some stray thoughts on the long holiday weekend as the New England Patriots open preparations for the Miami Dolphins.

Brandon Meriweather is, was and always will remain an enigma in Boston sports history.

Every yahoo fan I know including a handful on the Pats beat — you all know who you are — scoffed at me when I wrote week after week that Meriweather couldn't play.

"Two Pro Bowls," you barked.

Yep, two Pro Bowls, but he couldn't play here.

Bottom line is that Meriweather is an athletic freak, a kid who could do anything he wanted on the field of play since he was a child. But he never really worked at it.

Thursday night against the Giants was his final test. Bill Belichick tested him by playing him with the "scrub" types in the fourth quarter. Meriweather didn't respond by being the best player on the field. Instead, he coasted, pouted and whined to the media after the game.

Maybe Meriweather will get a shot at his true position of free safety in Chicago, next to Chris Harris — a legit NFL strong safety which we haven't had here since Rodney Harrison retired.

All I know is I will be shaking my head listening to sports radio when New England fans do what they do best, beat the guy up on the way out of town.

Waters a long-term gamble

Of all the moves the Patriots made over the weekend, the one that should have the most impact is cutting young swing offensive tackle Steve Maneri and signing 34-year-old guard Brian Waters, a free agent who last played in Kansas City.

On paper, the move is a plus. Waters is a five-time Pro Bowler. I can't help wondering, though, if this one isn't going to come back and haunt the Pats in the long run.

A free agent out of Temple, Maneri is 23, learning the game in his second pro season. He looked sharp at both left and right tackle, at times better than rookie first-round pick Nate Solder.

The Pats believe they can stick Waters into the right guard spot now. That's fine.

But with Matt Light aging, Sebastian Vollmer hurting (he didn't play Thursday and didn't practice today) and Solder still learning, Maneri was a nice insurance policy to have around.

If guard help was needed, Light could have bumped inside. Instead, Maneri was signed to play in Kansas City.

Clearly, as the preseason unwound, the offensive line was a huge issue. Waters had better be ready for battle.

Farnham still awaiting call

It was definitely a tough break for Andover's Buddy Farnham, who was cut on Saturday by the team and wasn't picked up when the practice squad was signed yesterday.

Judging by Farnham's post-cut silence, he certainly will be looking to hook back on the practice squad as moves are made.

The call took 14 weeks to materialize last year. Let's hope the Pats have built up a bit more faith in Farnham and it comes a bit earlier this time around.

Look ahead to Dolphins

A couple of spots to watch as the Pats begin to ready for the Monday nighter with the Dolphins.

First and foremost, it's the secondary and how quickly things come together suddenly with Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown, among others, trying to find their roles.

How much will they get out of oft-nicked up Leigh Bodden? Will they get anything at all from Darius Butler, who somehow survived the final cut?

I'm also keeping an eye on the rookie runners, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Each has been banged up, but Ridley looked like he actually might be something.

Finally, what will this football team get from Albert Haynesworth? Word from the inside is that they are expecting plenty. Let's see how the guy who self-destructed in Washington handles things here.

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