FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick hits from Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio's news conference today:
1. Young Bucs. Thursday's preseason opponent, the Buccaneers, has 74 of their 90 players who are either 25 or younger according to Caserio. "It's a young, fast, aggressive hungry football team," Caserio said, noting it will be a good test for the Patriots. "It will be a good to get a gauge of where we are, and handle some elements, whether it's the noise, playing on the road, those type of things."
2. Workouts no different than past. Every day, it seems, the Patriots are bringing in a new free-agent for a workout. But Caserio made the point that the team worked out the same number of players last year at this time as this year. "We're just doing our due diligence, doing our homework, trying to stay prepared, trying to gather as much information as we can on the players, and if there is an opportunity that makes sense for us, then we'll pursue it," he said. "I'd say it's standing operating procedure. We're just trying to evaluate the market to the best of our ability and have as much information at our disposal as possible."
3. Safeties 'a pretty solid group.' With the Patriots hosting Darren Sharper and Renaldo Hill on workouts today, Caserio was asked to assess the team's safety crop. He mentioned that there are "a lot of guys who have played a lot of football for us", starting with Patrick Chung, then Brandon Meriweather and Sergio Brown. He then mentioned veteran James Sanders, who has been out with injury. "That's a pretty solid group," he said. "Collectively, that's a group, it's not perfect but I think they're all moving in the right direction."
4. Focusing on Meriweather. Some have viewed the Patriots' interest in free-agent safeties as a sign that the coaching staff isn't thrilled with Brandon Meriweather. That might have been why Caserio was asked to share his thoughts on Meriweather today in terms of how he's evolved as a player since joining the team in 2007. "Brandon's been a productive player since he's been here," Caserio responded. "He has a lot of experience in our system. He's a talented player. Is it perfect? No. Is he working hard to get better? That's the most important thing. I think the biggest thing is that each year is kind of its own entity, so the most important thing is that you're looking for improvement over the course of time. I think Brandon has improved since he's been here and I think he continues to improve."