Meriweather Hopes to Upgrade Secondary

New Bears safety Brandon Meriweather has a reputation as a freelance play maker, which could bode well for a defense that thrives on turnovers. Yet his exact role on the team is still up in the air.

Even though he was a Pro Bowl selection in each of the past two seasons, Brandon Meriweather wore out his welcome with the Patriots, but now he's looking forward to doing anything he can to help the Bears.

"I expect to come in and do whatever the coach asks me to," said the fifth-year veteran. "If (coach Lovie Smith) comes in and asks me to play all special teams, I expect to do that. I want to come in and contribute any way I can."

Meriweather comes with a reputation for mixing big plays and bad plays and a risk-taking style of play on and off the field that includes big rewards and big mistakes. But Smith prefers to look on the bright side.

"He's just a good football player," the Bears' coach said. "He can hit. He's got excellent ball skills, can change directions; all the things we're looking for in a defensive back. He's got a good pedigree too. Devin Hester, knowing him quite well, said a lot of good things about him. We did research and felt like he was a good fit."

S Brandon Meriweather
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Hester played with Meriweather at the University of Miami, where the safety was involved in a gunfight but wasn't charged. He was also involved in the brawl with Florida International and suspended after stomping on fallen opponents.

Seven-year veteran strong safety Chris Harris says the Bears' secondary is better with Meriweather, who has 12 interceptions in the past three years, four forced fumbles, three sacks and 27 pass breakups.

"He's a certified playmaker," Harris said. "The guy has made plays his entire career, so anytime you can get a guy of that caliber on your roster, I think it definitely makes your team better."

Meriweather's presence diminishes the job security of Harris and especially free safety Major Wright, but Harris isn't concerned.

"One thing you (should) learn about me, I'm a very confident person," said Harris, who tied cornerback Charles Tillman for the team lead in interceptions last season with five. I think adding a guy of that caliber is excellent for our defense.

"Competition raises everybody's level of play. Anytime you bring a guy in at your position, competition is great. It only makes your level of play better and therefore it's going to make the team's play better."

For now, Major Wright remains the starter at free safety, but his play in the preseason was inconsistent at best.

He appears to be susceptible to being replaced by Meriweather.

"The only thing I can control is Major Wright, just me going out and getting better every day," the 2010 third-round pick said. "I feel I've progressed, (but) there's still room to improve."

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