By Laurence Holmes-
(CBS) After the Bears signed Brandon Meriweather, the team’s new safety got to work. He headed to Halas Hall for a late night review session with safeties coach, Gil Byrd, and is looking to get up to speed as soon as possible.
“They gave it to me fast,” Meriweather said. “Luckily, we got people like Chris (Harris) who know the defense very well and he can help me out with small questions.”
Harris was impressed with Meriweather wanting to get to work right away.
“He was here last night with our coach Gil Byrd. He was in here til 10p last night. He’s a player that wants to learn.” Harris said.
This week will be a cram-session for Meriweather. He’ll have to learn the nuance of the Bears system and make a change from a 3-4 base to a 4-3 look. Lovie Smith says language will be the biggest hurdle.
“We do things differently. We call things differently, but once you kinda get by most of the terminology, most of the coverages are the same.” Smith said. “Most defenses are gap control. When the ball is up in the air, you go and get. Guys running with the ball, you go tackle him. There will be some challenges, but when you have a veteran like that they normally pick it up pretty quick.”
Base coverages shouldn’t be a problem for Meriweather. Figuring out concepts of some of the zone pressures will be more difficult. How quickly Meriweather picks up the system and most importantly the terminology will determine how much he plays against the Falcons, but don’t expect much. It’s rare that a player would be able to come in and start, but that doesn’t mean Meriweather isn’t going to try.
“I expect to do whatever the coaches ask me to,” Meriweather said. “If he comes in and ask me to play off special teams, I expect to do that. I just want to come in and contribute anyway I can.”
Meriweather provides talent and depth at the safety spot. He thinks he has the smarts and is physical enough to help this team soon, but the criticism on Meriweather in New England was that he liked to free-lance too much. As Harris explained to me, there isn’t a lot of room for that in the Bears system.
“You gotta play within the defenses. Some defenses allow you more freedom than others,” Harris said. “Some defenses we have you can’t really go out there and be out of position and make a play because you thought you saw something. There are other defenses that we have where you might be protected so if you thought you saw something, you can go and make the play.”
Expect Major Wright to start Sunday unless Meriweather’s ramping up process takes a quantum leap forward. Wright, he can keep Meriweather on the bench with more consistent play and sounder tackling then he showed in the pre-season.
Meriweather has 12 interceptions, 24 passes defended and 4 forced fumbles in his last three seasons.