Monday, August 15, 2011
Highlighting safety shuffle in practice
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Much like a quarterback and receiver working to be on the same page, the two safeties in the back end of a defense must do the same. Developing that chemistry takes a lot of hard work.
That's why it was significant to see a shift at the position for parts of the Patriots' practice on Monday.
Longtime starter Brandon Meriweather didn't take all the first-team reps. He was replaced by second-year player Sergio Brown at times.
The shuffle came on the same day the Patriots were scheduled to work out veteran free agents Darren Sharper and Renaldo Hill, and one week after the team made a contract offer to safety Dashon Goldson, who eventually re-signed with the 49ers.
The player most affected by the change, Patrick Chung, didn't want to get into specifics.
"That's not for me to comment," Chung said after the practice. "Whoever is out there is out there, period. If it's me and Brandon, if it's Brandon and Sergio, or if it's James [Sanders]. You have to play next to them."
The time at practice is important for the safeties when it comes to communication. Chung explained that good communication allows safeties to play "instinctively and fast", so when safeties mesh, the back end of a defense becomes solidified.
"That's your right-hand man," he said. "You have to be able to communicate with just pointing, just eyes. It's kind of like your brother, when you had fun with your brother, [saying] 'Let's do this prank' and he knows what it is [before you mention it]. That's how it is."
Asked how to develop that, Chung said, "Just being next to him every play, in practice and even in the meeting room."
In Thursday's preseason opener against the Jaguars, in a game when several top defenders did not play, Meriweather and Chung started and were on the field for the entire first half (37 snaps).
It looks like the coaching staff is considering a change.