- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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WEST WARWICK, R.I. -- Some bonds never fade.
Ellis Hobbs and Brandon Meriweather played in the same Patriots secondary for two seasons (2007-2008), and they again found themselves in the same huddle Tuesday at Hobbs’ life skills/football camp at West Warwick High School.
This presented an opportunity for reporters to catch up with Meriweather, the fifth-year safety who in March had been in the headlines for reasons most players want to avoid. Meriweather discussed that topic and more before departing to the airport for a flight home to Orlando.
Meriweather, who was listed at 200 pounds last season, is now around 205-207 after altering his offseason routine. He’s not focusing as closely on football drills -- save for footwork and a few other areas he felt he were lacking -- and instead has targeted more strength work that he feels has made him stronger, faster and more agile (more on this from Kevin McNamara from the Providence Journal).
Meriweather spent time this offseason traveling between Orlando and New England in preparation for the final season of the five-year contract he signed as a first-round draft choice in 2007. Had the current proposed collective bargaining agreement been in effect when Meriweather entered the league, he’d be scheduled for unrestricted free agency at this time.
Sometimes being in a contract year can spark a player to a higher level, but Meriweather insists that’s not part of his mindset.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” he said. “It’s my last year, and whatever happens after this year happens. I’m going to go into this year playing like I have five more on it.”
Meriweather played more than any Patriots safety last season (80 percent of the snaps), followed by Patrick Chung (72 percent) and James Sanders (70 percent). With Devin McCourty coming off a stellar rookie season at left cornerback, and second-round draft choice Ras-I Dowling joining the corner competition that includes veteran Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite and Co., Meriweather sees a crowded situation.
“We have a lot of young talent and I think we’re going to be all right, but it’s going to be interesting to see how coaches put it together,” he said.
As for catching up with Hobbs at Tuesday's camp, Meriweather smiled.
“This right here is what I think is the most important thing I do during the offseason -- come out here and talk to the kids, to see people who are really playing the game because they love it,” he said. “They train because they love it, not because they’re getting paid for it. It’s more of a reward for me than it is for them.”
On the flip side, Meriweather has not followed the ins and outs of the lockout or other media coverage. As for being present at a March shooting that generated headlines, Meriweather didn’t duck the topic.
“I think my lawyer did a great job of explaining it,” Meriweather said, before the interview was stopped by one of the camp’s organizers.