At cornerback, he’s benched second round pick Darius Butler and turned to undrafted player Kyle Arrington. At linebacker, youngsters Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich are getting more playing time, with veteran Tully Banta-Cain playing less.
Safety was one spot the Patriots seemed to have figured out. But 2009 Pro Bowler Brandon Meriweather now comes off bench. James Sanders has started of late because Meriweather reportedly freelances too much.
“Of course I made mistakes but as for me not being on the field every play, that’s up to the coaches not just me,” Meriweather said Friday, via Tom Curran of Comcast Sports New England.
Asked if he was pissed off about the move, Meriweather had a good answer: “My business has nothing to do with whether it pisses me off or not.”
Sanders knows how Meriweather feels. Sanders was a key starter on a Super Bowl team early in his career, then became a backup. Bill Belichick trusts Sanders more than Meriweather now, though.
“There are things that happen on any given play that aren’t quite the
way that they are drawn up, and football players have to do the right
thing within the context of their responsibility,” Belichick said.
Meriweather has time to turn his season around. But his surprising role is emblematic of a Patriots defense that is still searching for an identity.
UPDATE: Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald reports Butler isn’t expected to start again this week.