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Meriweather meets expectations, ready for more

Surprisingly, nothing surprised him.

"It wasn't anything I didn't expect," Brandon Meriweather humbly, though self-assuredly, replied. He was asked, after Wednesday's morning practice, for his thoughts on his first NFL game, last week's preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I expected the game to be a lot faster, to be a little more focused on the little things…everything the coaches told me to expect."

What about all the reps he was given? Wasn't he somewhat taken aback by all the action he saw at nickel, at corner, and on special teams? Again, his response was matter-of-fact.

"No, I'm not. I've been watching football for quite a while, so I kind of figured that the starters weren't going to play as much."

Surely, he must have been at least a little bit nervous…

"Of course. Every rookie is going to be nervous in their first game in the NFL, preseason or regular season. I might be nervous the whole first year, you never know," Meriweather demurely laughed.

So, what calmed him down?

"Just getting on the field with your teammates, looking to the side and seeing Rodney [Harrison] and the rest of the boys out there, just gave me a sense of encouragement."

Once settled, Meriweather noticed some obvious differences between the college and pro game.

"It's a lot different. I have a lot more focusing to do, and a lot more little things to do that I didn't have to do in college. The biggest thing is the mental part…and to see how strong the receivers were.

"The receivers are a lot stronger in the pros than they were in college," he continued. "They've got a little more technique to blocking than they do in college. In college, you pretty much just beat them with mind games, but here you have to use technique, and do all the little things that count."

Then, with a wisdom normally seen only in seasoned Patriots veterans, the rookie assessed his own performance against the Bucs.

"There are still some things I need to work on. Some things I did good, some things I did bad."

One of Meriweather's bad plays actually turned out to be good for New England.

Late in the third quarter, with the Pats trailing 10-7, Tampa Bay running back Lionel Gates took a handoff and started to his left. Meriweather read the play perfectly, darting into the Bucs backfield to make the tackle.

Problem was, he missed Gates, but apparently slowed him down enough for defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith to maul him. The ball popped loose and was recovered by rookie linebacker Justin Rogers. New England's offense, led by rookie QB Matt Gutierrez, then drove for the game-tying field goal.

"I remember the play, but I don't remember exactly what happened," Meriweather recalled with a smile, before adding, "it was just a good play by the back, and our defense just swarmed to the ball. In all, I just need to learn the playbook a little more, and focus on the game plan."

This week's game plan involves preparing for one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, Tennessee's Vince Young. But Meriweather remains unfazed.

"To be honest with you, I'm not really focused on Vince Young," he asserted. "I'm focusing on the New England Patriots and what we have to do. So, right now I'm focusing on Brandon Meriweather and the New England Patriots."

What does he expect that game plan will involve for him Friday night versus the Titans?

"Basically, just to go out and execute. That's pretty much the game plan, try not to do too much and go outside of my game. Just to do what the coaches ask me to do, and perform as they would like me to."

No surprises there.

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