NFL

After strong game, Meriweather stays humble

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)

Brandon Meriweather won't spend time during his bye week watching perhaps his best game as a pro. He might take a peek, though, at his next opponent. The emerging leader in the New England Patriots secondary is more concerned with the upcoming challenge, not the last one. "Everything is a work in progress," Meriweather said Wednesday. "Nothing is ever perfect, but everything can get better." The three-year veteran had two interceptions on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first 12 offensive plays on Sunday. He returned the first one for a 39-yard touchdown that began the 35-7 rout in London. "The guy is a playmaker," said Brandon McGowan, who plays next to Meriweather at the other safety position. "Most of the time he's in the right spot." Meriweather was the 24th pick in the first round in 2007 after setting the career record at Miami for tackles by a defensive back. As a rookie, he had trouble holding onto the ball. Last season, he corrected that with four interceptions, but the secondary gave up some big plays. Now he's making them. "I kind of forgot about last year and moved on to this year," Meriweather said. "Any time you can make big plays it does a lot for your confidence and it does a lot for the team." The Patriots are spending their bye week in first place in the AFC East with a 5-2 record after blowout victories over winless teams, 59-0 over the Tennessee Titans before Sunday's victory over Tampa Bay. They'll come back to face the Miami Dolphins, who nearly upset the New Orleans Saints before a loss dropped them to 2-4, although quarterback Chad Henne is 2-1 since replacing Chad Pennington, out for the season with a shoulder injury. Meriweather isn't looking past the Dolphins to tougher opponents later in November. "They have a great running game," he said. "They have a quarterback who's been getting better and better every week. So I'm just trying to look at this Miami game and get ready for that." Meriweather said he would leave town to spend time with his daughter and might watch some video of the Dolphins. He's not focused beyond that game. "I don't even know who we play" after Miami, he said. Does he know he'll play on the road against Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Drew Brees of the Saints, both unbeaten teams, in two of the last three games next month? After a brief pause, Meriweather said, "I know I'm going to be facing the Miami Dolphins next week." He played in all 16 games with no starts as a rookie, then started 11 of his 16 games last season with safety Rodney Harrison sidelined most of the season. Harrison retired and Meriweather has started all seven games this season, leading the team in tackles. "He taught me the little things - how to stay healthy, how to read quarterbacks," Meriweather said. "Nothing major, but he just showed me how to put myself in position to let my athletics take over." Harrison, now a football analyst for NBC, said last Sunday that Meriweather is the Patriots MVP. "It means a lot, but you've always got to take things with a grain of salt," Meriweather said. "I can't look at it too hard because when you start looking at things too hard then you start to play like it. You start to fall off and your head gets big. So I'm still trying to stay humble and just continue doing what I've been doing." He wants to keep showing the ability that convinced the Patriots to draft him in the first round. "I kind of show little glimpses of it every now and then. I really don't think that I hit my peak yet," Meriweather said. "I still have a lot to learn and a lot to get better with."
Tagged: Patriots

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