Brandon Meriweather Excited For Preseason Debut
Three separate knee injuries reduced the strong safety to being able to play in only one game last season, making him excited to make his preseason debut against the Buccaneers.
BY ZAC BOYER
ASHBURN – Slowly cart him out of the locker room in a roll of bubble wrap. Have him stand alone on the sideline in a fenced-off area.
Whatever it is, Brandon Meriweather may need a variety of safety measures if he wants to make his preseason debut.
Meriweather will play for the Redskins for the first time in over nine months tonight when they wrap up their preseason with a road game against the Buccaneers.
He’ll be one of few projected starters to play – that is, assuming he makes it that far.
“I’m not allowed to go out [early] in Tampa, man,” Meriweather said, smiling. “I’m not allowed to warm up. I won’t be out there this time.”
The strong safety missed all but one game last season because of three knee injuries, the second of which happened in a freak accident at Raymond James Stadium last September.
Expecting to return after spraining his left knee during the preseason, Meriweather was running in the north end zone before the game when he collided with receiver Aldrick Robinson.
Both players fell awkwardly to the field, with Meriweather crumpling on his left leg and Robinson knocked out with a concussion.
It would be seven more weeks before Meriweather played in a game, but even then, his return would be short-lived. He played just 41 snaps against the Eagles in mid-November before leaving in the third quarter with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Though it was just one half, Meriweather’s impact in the secondary was quite clear. A cornerback in college, he allowed the defense to get more creative with its coverage schemes, and the adjustments paid off when he had six of the Redskins’ first 15 tackles and intercepted a pass midway through the first quarter. Some of his teammates later said that Meriweather’s return brought a different type of energy to the secondary, but he said Tuesday that wasn’t his intent.
“I don’t think you really try to do that,” Meriweather said. “I think that’s either in you or it’s not. You know, I play with a lot of energy. I play with a lot of tempo, and that’s just something that guys get to feed off of.”
That’s the type of contribution the Redskins expected from Meriweather when they signed him to a two-year, $6 million contract before last season. A Pro Bowl selection with the Patriots in 2009 and 2010, he fell out of favor with the team before the 2011 season and was released, leading to him signing a one-year contract with the Bears before the first week of the regular season.
But Meriweather struggled to adapt to the Bears’ cover-2 defense, and he started only four games before becoming little more than a situational role player. Washington, then, was supposed to be his fresh start – one he’ll now get.
“He’s going to be anxious and excited to prove to not only himself but everybody that he’s still got it,” outside linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “He hasn’t gone anywhere and he’s fully recovered and he’s going to go out there and try to prove something.”
How much Meriweather plays against the Buccaneers is uncertain. None of the Redskins’ other projected defensive starters will play except for rookie free safety Bacarri Rambo, and given concerns the team had early in training camp about inflammation in Meriweather’s knee, he may play only in the first half.
“I think he’ll be fine,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “He’s gonna be a little rusty, obviously. He hasn’t played in a while. But I thought he’s had good practices here the last week and a half. He looks like he’s running full speed and everything looks smooth. We’ll see when the tackling and comes and all the other stuff – the hard stuff.”
That should give him enough of a chance to establish himself within the defense, build a rapport with Rambo and, if everything checks out, show his knee is ready for the rigors of the start of the season.
“I don’t think you ever have anything to prove,” Meriweather said. “I think you go out there, you do what you have to do, you do your job and all the chips fall where they may.”