The midseason All-Pro teams are out, and Patriots S Brandon Meriweather’s getting all the respect in the world here. He made the cut on the lists of ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Weekly.
There are mitigating factors to Meriweather’s selection, it should be known. Bob Sanders played in just two games before going on IR, Troy Polamalu missed four games, and Ed Reed is fighting through shoulder and neck issues that, he concedes, have affected his play.
Stephen Gostkowski’s name was the only other one from the New England roster to appear — he got on to the SI team, put together by Peter King. Here’s what each spot had to say about Meriweather …
ESPN: The best strong safety on this planet is clearly Troy Polamalu, but the Pittsburgh star missed four games because of knee injury. Meriwether is stout against the run (43 tackles), and has played surprisingly well against the pass.
Pro Football Weekly: The Patriots lost a ton of veteran leadership with the departures of Rodney Harrison(notes), Tedy Bruschi(notes), Mike Vrabel(notes) and Richard Seymour(notes). But the defense has performed admirably, and Harrison has gone on record as saying that Meriweather is the team’s defensive MVP. Meriweather is starting to show the instincts that made fellow Miami (Fla.) safeties like Ed Reed(notes) and Sean Taylor(notes) stars. Meriweather’s breakout game came in London against the Buccaneers, when he snared two interceptions, returning one 39 yards for a touchdown.
Sports Illustrated: Starting to play with the instinct of Rodney Harrison.
So where can Meriweather improve? When I talked with Rodney Harrison a couple weeks ago about this, he wasn’t as worried about the big plays like so many other people are.
“It’s the stuff he’s not being looked at for that’s impressed me,” Harrison said. “Everyone knew he had big-play ability. That’s why Bill took him in the first round. But now, he’s not making the big mental error, he’s not getting caught looking in the backfield and allowing the tight end to bootleg by him, and that’s leading to consistency.
“He needs to be consistent. One thing he has is when he makes a mistake — missing a big tackle or taking a bad angle — he’s saying, ‘I’m OK.’ He doesn’t harp on things, and that shows his maturation, his confidence in his ability. He’s going to be a really, really good player. It’s not just one or two games. He’s showing he’s a leader. Put on the film, and you’ll see him making big tackles in key spots. It’s not just about the picks.”
He was back at practice this morning. And judging by what the Patriots up against, the club needs him to come up big this week.