Foxborough – It seems Eugene Wilson is a fast learner.
Barely a year after he was converted from cornerback, Wilson earned the distinction of being the NFL's Defensive Player of the Month for the performance he turned in as a safety during September. The award, which was announced Thursday, may come as a surprise to some, but not Bill Belichick.
"He had a good month. Eugene this year, I think, it is a lot different for him because he had an opportunity to practice in preseason and in training camp at safety, which he didn't have last year," said Belichick. "He didn't make that move until after the opening game against Buffalo. He is a lot more comfortable back there. He has gotten off to a good start."
Wilson earned the award despite playing in only two games during September because of the Patriots Week 3 bye. He helped the Patriots to a 2-0 record in those games by making 12 tackles and recording a pair of interceptions, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery - all in eight quarters of work. His two interceptions tie him for second-most in the NFL.
Wilson, a former cornerback from the University of Illinois who the Patriots drafted in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, now has six career interceptions in 18 regular season games.
"He plays the ball well and has good hands," said Belichick. "He is a good athlete. He is a smart kid back there. He really helps with our adjustments. For a young guy, he has really stepped up and come along and made a couple of big plays for us."
It is Wilson's first career monthly award, and the first earned by any Patriots defensive player since linebacker Chris Slade was honored in September of 1997.
Team moves forward without WatsonThe team released a statement regarding first-round draft pick Benjamin Watson, who, yesterday, was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
"During preparation for the Arizona game, Benjamin Watson experienced discomfort in his knee and did not play in the game. After further evaluation, the medical staff has determined that the proper course of action is for Benjamin to have surgery and to be placed on injured reserve."
When asked how the loss of Watson would affect the team's offensive strategies, Belichick seemed indifferent.
"Christian [Fauria] and Daniel [Graham] have played a lot of football for us, and they have done well. They have been productive. I think we can still do what we need to do with them," Belichick said.
Pats Welcome Watson's ReplacementJed Weaver, signed yesterday to fill the tight end void left by Watson, participated in his first practice with the team. Weaver, who, after signing a three-year, three million dollar deal, was rather surprisingly released by Denver in the preseason, appeared excited about his new home.
"Everyone knows what's been going on here. I'm boys with Larry Izzo from Miami, went to his wedding and a bunch of the guys were there," Weaver said. "Everyone's just really nice, you know, down-to-earth guys, despite all the fame and all the glory here the last couple years. It's good to get in here, and I hope I can help out."
Weaver's 437 receiving yards last season in San Francisco were more than any tight end posted for the Patriots last season.
Belichick praised Weaver's ability to do a number of different things, and cited his time in Miami as a previous showcase the Patriots used to evaluate him.
He has been a guy that can play a number of different roles, flexibility at tight end, the move position, and can play in the kicking game," said Belichick. "I think he has some versatility. We have seen him in the division, so we have a little bit of familiarity with him."
There were no changes in Thursday's injury report. Deion Branch is doubtful for Sunday's game, after injuring his knee almost two weeks ago in Arizona.
Kevin Faulk, who has yet to appear in a regular season game this year, is still listed as questionable, while quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jim Miller are still listed as probable with injuries to their right shoulders.
In Buffalo, rookie quarterback J.P Losman is out, as is running back Shaud Williams, while guards Mike Pucillo and Chris Villarrial are listed as questionable.
Former Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy is also listed as out for Sunday's game, despite his pleas to the training staff to set him loose on his old mates.
Despite Deion Branch's status as doubtful, rookie receiver P.K. Sam has not been told to prepare for action in Sunday's game. Nonetheless, Sam believes he has grasped the offense, and has recovered from the injury that sidelined him in the preseason … Both teams are coming off an unusually early bye in Week 3, but Belichick does not see that as a factor. "Both teams know each other pretty well," said Belichick. "We have both had the same amount of time to prepare. That is usually the way it is." … If the Patriots beat the Bills, it will be their eighteenth consecutive victory, including last year's postseason … Belichick had high praise for Bills linebacker London Fletcher. "I don't know how you could say enough about him," said Belichick. "He has more tackles than anybody in the league in the last five years. The guy makes a ton of plays. He's all over the field." … Though the two teams treated each other to 31-0 beatdowns last season, the Bill and Patriots have been to overtime in four of their ten meetings since 1999.