Patriots coach Bill Belichick held his regular Tuesday conference call with reporters (noon) and here were a few topics of note.
1) Preparations begin on the Cardinals. Belichick said the coaching staff has started “digging in” on Arizona. The area in which Belichick began his regular “scouting report” to the media was the team’s offense, starting with a “great group of receivers” which is headlined by Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston and Jerheme Urban. The Cardinals were described as having a fast defense, playing mostly a 4-3 alignment on early downs, and Belichick noted their strong performance in the kickoff and punt return games. Belichick summed up the Cardinals by calling them “a well balanced team led by an experienced quarterback, with a very good group of skill players offensively, and a fast group on defense.”
2) Praising the performance of Brandon Meriweather. Belichick was asked what has impressed him most with second-year safety Brandon Meriweather, who has stepped into the starting lineup since Oct. 20 when Rodney Harrison was lost with a season-ending injury. “I think every area of Brandon’s game continues to get better,” he responded. “He’s played a little bit more down closer to the line of scrimmage than he has in the past in sub situations when he was in there with Rodney. He’s shown to be a good tackler and good in run support, and good around the line of scrimmage. He’s done a good job in the deep part of the field in some man-to-man coverage situations that he’s been asked to play in, like the St. Louis game where we were facing four-wide receiver personnel, and he was playing the inside kind of corner position on that. Through the course of the season, he’s been asked to do a lot of different things and he just really has improved in all of them. I think he’s having a good year. He’s certainly come a long way as a player in these two seasons and it just continues to get better. He’s a really dependable guy, smart, and makes very few errors back there in the secondary -- not just himself, but also in terms of his overall communication back there with the group. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and I think we have a lot of confidence in him because of the way he’s been playing.”
3) Why there was no Kevin O’Connell sighting. Quarterback Matt Cassel went wire to wire in Sunday’s 49-26 victory over the Raiders, and some might have viewed it as Bill Belichick giving Cassel the opportunity to kneel on the ball at the end of the game, which is a reward most quarterbacks appreciate. But Belichick actually said that wasn’t part of his decision-making process. "I don't have any problem putting the next quarterback in, in a situation like that," he said. "But just with the rain and the ball-handling and all that -- even though we had a lead there -- I just felt like to put Kevin in cold in that kind of situation, with the conditions what they were and standing there for three hours, I just thought that was probably not the right time to do it."