In a recent interview with ProFootballFocus.com, Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Devin McCourty referenced Leigh Bodden, James Sanders, and Brandon Meriweather as his biggest influences his rookie season:
As a corner, Leigh Bodden was a person [I turned to] in training camp before he got hurt and was on IR. A lot of us young corners turned to him because he has nine years in the NFL. He’s had a lot of experience and learned a lot from being around other players on different teams. We were able to get different techniques and a mentality for playing corner from him.
During the year: our safeties, especially James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather. I asked them a bunch of questions about watching film and why coaches were saying certain things. Those two guys were big, especially early in the season and around that mid-way point when I felt like I got [into] the swing of things.
Seeing Bodden and Sanders listed as mentors is no surprise to me: both are veteran leaders in the Patriots secondary (and underrated for that matter). But seeing Brandon Meriweather up there could be seen as a surprise to some especially when considering some of the off-the-field issues he's had this offseason and the up-and-down year that he had last year for the Patriots.
One factor that a lot of Patriots fans often overlook when it comes to Meriweather is the swagger that he brings to the defensive back group. Sure, he isn't the most consistent player and isn't a James Sanders type of leader, but he brings an attitude to the defensive back group that really was one of the better performing groups on the Patriots roster (even more so when factoring in the lackluster pass rush). Meriweather has taken a lot of flak over the last few months, so it's nice to see his name in a positive light for a change. Personally, I doubt the Patriots will re-sign him after this season, but a more consistent Brandon Meriweather could really help the team next year.
The rest of the interview with McCourty was very interesting, so I would suggest giving it a look.