BOSTON (CBS) -- Just about everyone is trying to guess what's going on between Bill Belichick and Malcolm Butler.
The Patriots corner didn't start in Sunday's win over the Saints and only played about 75 percent of the snaps, which is unusual for a player who is usually out there for every defensive play. Things got even hairier on Tuesday when Belichick praised several defensive players for their play on Sunday, but didn't have much to say about Butler.
There's some speculation that Butler, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason after a tumultuous and unsuccessful campaign for a new contract last summer, is being phased out and could be sent out of town ahead of the NFL trade deadline.
It's nearly impossible to get inside the mind of the Patriots head coach, but if anyone can get close, it's one of his former players. Toucher & Rich asked former Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather what Belichick's motives could be when he joined the show for his weekly appearance on Wednesday morning. Meriweather said Belichick is sending a clear message to his player: Forget what happened over the offseason and just go play football.
"You have to understand, Bill is like a mad scientist. He's going to do whatever he thinks he has to do to get you to understand the past is the past, to let it go and move on. That's what Bill does," said Meriweather. "He might bench him for two or three games and then throw him in there for crunch time, just to see if he's ready. ... I don't think Malcolm is on the outs. I just think Bill is trying to get him to let it go and move on."
Meriweather also discussed Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left Sunday's win in the second half with a groin injury. He said when Gronk gets hit, it's always a violent collision because it's so damn hard to bring him down.
"It's hell [trying to tackle Gronkowski]. He's a big guy, he's heavy, so it's like trying tackle a tree stump," said Meriweather. "You can't wrap him up so to get him down, if you're not his size, you have to put everything into it."
Meriweather said he actually had a tougher time tackling smaller players like Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice during his career. He also added that players preferred to be hit high rather than low, and would let him know on the field.
"Players would say 'Hit me high, bro.' Everyone would rather have a concussion than their knees tore up," said Meriweather.
Listen to the full interview in the podcast above, including 5 Questions With Brandon Meriweather!
for more features.