Deltha dawns quickly in Pats' memories

September, 1, 2008
9/01/08
3:36
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
O'Neal

The New England Patriots didn't need to do much research when it came to Deltha O'Neal.

They have his highlight films playing in their heads.

"We got killed by him, yes," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday at his daily news conference when asked about his new CB. O'Neal, cut by the Cincinnati Bengals over the weekend, signed today with Patriots.

O'Neal, 31, played his first four seasons with the Denver Broncos and his past four with the Bengals. The two-time Pro Bowler has 30 career interceptions, including a career-high 10 in 2005.

O'Neal intercepted Patriots QB Tom Brady twice in an Oct. 28 victory for the Broncos.

"Yeah, I remember -- very well," Brady said. "There were four picks in the second half ... actually in the fourth quarter. He made a diving catch that was pretty awesome.

"You don't want to mess around with him that much. He has great ball skills. In college [California], he could do everything. He was a receiver, defensive back and he returned kicks. Hopefully, he can add some of that play-making ability to our team."

The knock on O'Neal in Cincy was that he wasn't compatible with new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's high-pressure system. The Bengals' CBs need to have excellent man-to-man skills, and O'Neal has lost a step.

But Belichick apparently didn't think that was enough reason to ignore O'Neal once he hit the street.

"We played him last year in Cincinnati, and I did some work on him going into that game and saw him the rest of the season and in preseason this year," Belichick said. "He is a very athletic corner, good ball skills, pretty big guy that goes up and plays a lot of press coverage.

"[He is] a physical player, good tackler, good interceptor, returner. We have seen the back of his jersey on that a couple of times."

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