When training camp opens July 25th, the Redskins hope Brandon Meriweather will be on the practice field, ready to resume a career that was repeatedly interrupted by knee injuries last season.
But when asked about his surgically repaired right knee this week, the veteran safety stopped short of making any guarantees.
“You ask me if there’s any doubt, I’ll say, ‘No,” Meriweather said. “But you ask the doctor and the trainer and they may say, ‘Yes.’ So I really don’t know. … I never had a torn ACL, so I don’t know what the timetable is like.”
Who could blame Meriweather for being cautious, especially given the way his nightmare of a 2012 campaign unfolded?
The 29-year-old hurt his left knee in the second preseason game, then re-injured it a week before the regular season opener in a freak practice injury. Then, just as he was set to return in Week 4, he collided with teammate Aldrick Robinson in pregame warmups, sidelining him for five more games.
Meriweather finally made his Redskins’ debut against the Eagles on Nov. 18 and, for a half, was the team’s best defender, recording seven tackles, two defended passes and an interception that he returned 25 yards. But he also suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in the third quarter of that game, bringing his first season in Washington to an abrupt and disappointing conclusion.
But that inspired performance against the Eagles, however brief, has given the Redskins hope that a healthy Meriweather will help bolster a pass defense that ranked 30th and yielded more passing touchdowns than all but one team last season.
“You ask me what [people] can expect?” Meriweather said. “They can expect me to do the same thing as last year: go out there and try to give the team a lift in anyway I can.”
Asked about the importance of putting last season behind him, Meriweather was philosophical about a year that he can’t forget soon enough.
“Man, I’m not even thinking about last year to be honest,” he said. “The way I look at it, God gave me a year to rest my body. He added two more years on my career, that’s how I look at it. Everybody say [that] I kept getting injured. I say it was a get-healthy-year.”
If Meriweather does in fact get healthy, it’s expected that he’ll be the team’s starting strong safety. But he also expects to face increased competition. Rookies Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo figure to compete for significant playing time with holdovers Reed Doughty, Jordan Pugh and DeJon Gomes.
“It’s going to be competitive,” Meriweather said. “There’s going to be a lot of great players on the [practice] field at once. And the best man is going to win.”
But first things first, he quickly added.
“I haven’t thought about the depth chart, period,” he said. “The only thing I’ve thought about is me getting my knees right and finding a way to compete with the rest of these guys.”