A cheery Brandon Meriweather is as thrilled to be a Bear as the Bears are thrilled to have him. But we'll have to wait until Sunday at the earliest to get answers to the most pertinent questions surrounding the Bears acquisition of the two-time Pro Bowl safety -- like just how much of an upgrade will he be on a defense that already is among the best in the NFL?
''It feels tremendous to come in and all the guys showed me a lot of love when I got here,'' said Meriweather, a four-year starter for the New England Patriots who was released Saturday. "To be playing with an old teammate like Devin Hester [at the University of Miami], it just feels great.''
Meriweather made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons, though that can be a specious measurement of a player's standing in the NFL. Still, for him to get cut by the Patriots after being a starter still opened some eyes.
''Surprised? Nothing in this league surprises me anymore,'' Meriweather said.
Meriweather offered no details on why he was cut. ''I'm sure if you call Bill [Belichick] and ask him, he'll give you all the details,'' he said, eliciting a guffaw from the reporters around his locker at Halas Hall.
''That's between me and coach. I have a lot of respect for that organization. I have a lot of respect for Bill and the rest of the staff there. But that's behind me now and I'm focused on being a Bear.''
Meriweather said he chose the Bears because ''I think it would be a good fit. The style of defense they play ... I love coach Lovie [Smith] and the organization. I think it's a first-class organization.''
For now, Meriweather figures to be the third safety behind strong safety Chris Harris and free safety Major Wright. If he's close to what he was with the Patriots -- he had 12 interceptions in the previous four seasons -- it's likely he would start ahead of Wright eventually. Unless he pushes the talented but inexperienced Wright to a higher level.
''I expect to come in and do what ever the coach asks me to do,'' said Meriweather, a first-round pick by the Patriots (24th overall) in 2007. ''If he asks me to play special teams, I expect to do that. I just want to come in and contribute any way I can.''
Can he be ready by Sunday's opener against the Atlanta Falcons?
''We'll find out,'' he said. ''I'm going to try my best. I'm going to do a lot of studying, so we'll find out.''
Meriweather has been known as a physical, playmaking safety who sometimes gets burned by taking unnecessary risks. That seems to be the biggest challenge he'll face in the Bears defense.
''I can't answer that,'' he said, chuckling. ''You're trying to get me in trouble my first day here. It's my first day!''