New England has a deep pool of safeties who all bring something unique to the field, yielding plenty of options for the Patriots' coaching staff. Let's take a closer look at the unit and the positional battle that promises to capture everyone's eyes at training camp.
Safeties on Roster: Sergio Brown, Patrick Chung, Bret Lockett, Brandon McGowan, Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, Ross Ventrone
Available Roster Spots: Four, potentially five
Key Statistic: In three seasons, Brandon Meriweather has amassed 178 total tackles (119 solo), four sacks, nine interceptions, 21 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and 34 special teams tackles in 48 regular-season games (27 starts).
Position Battle to Watch: One of the best battles on the roster involves the starting safety spot alongside Meriweather. Brandon McGowan had the job last season before giving way to James Sanders, who didn’t have the same big-play mentality but always played smart and definitely helped the defense. Sanders figures to have the immediate edge, but Patrick Chung is the wild card. The 2009 second-round draft pick showed a lot of promise during his rookie season, and he'll garner more playing time in 2010.
Hot Topic: Meriweather is an up-and-coming star at the position, and he is coming off his first Pro Bowl. The 26-year-old said he worked his tail off in the film room during the offseason, spending plenty of time with mentor Ed Reed, who might one day co-star in a "Fave 5" commercial with Bill Belichick. Anyway, Meriweather understands his shortcomings — trying to make the big play instead of the smart play, read-and-recognition, tackling — and has vowed to correct them. Meriweather has loads of talent, and he is emerging as one of the better safeties in the NFL.
NESN.com will be breaking down the Patriots by position.
Tuesday, July 27: Cornerbacks
Thursday, July 29: Specialists