FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -Brandon Meriweather figured being taken early in the NFL draft was a big investment. So he understands why the Patriots, who picked him in the first round, wanted to learn as much as they could.
They knew he was an outstanding safety at Miami. They also knew about a shooting and an on-field brawl in which he was involved.
So team personnel, including New England coach Bill Belichick, visited him twice in Miami.
If ``you were putting your money into a lot of stock, you would want to know everything about that stock before you put it in,'' Meriweather said Friday. ``I understand that a team wants to get to know you and they have to get to know you.''
Belichick decided that Meriweather was worth the 24th pick in last month's draft and will learn more about him in the Patriots' two-day minicamp starting Saturday.
That's what Meriweather is focusing on, not on the bad decisions he admitted he made.
Last Oct. 14, he kicked several Florida International players as part of an on-field fight. About three months earlier, he shot at an assailant who had shot Miami backup safety Willie Cooper outside the house Cooper shared with Meriweather and another teammate, police said. Meriweather wasn't charged and police said he used the gun legally.
``That's not even a concern of mine any more,'' he said. ``Right now, I'm just trying to focus on being a Patriot.''
Meriweather issued an apology for kicking players. Cooper and several of his college coaches have spoken up for him.
That support ``made me feel great,'' Meriweather said. ``No matter what certain people try to say and try to make it seem like I'm this mean person, but I'm not. I'm a great person who actually has morals and loves to be around his teammates.''
The one he's closest to is nose tackle Vince Wilfork, a former Miami teammate chosen by the Patriots in the first round in 2004.
Meriweather said he was ``too ecstatic'' to talk with anyone after learning he'd join a club that won three of the last six Super Bowls. ``The only person that I answered the phone for was Vince. He pretty much told me, `Welcome home.' ``
Wilfork told him that veterans Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi and Tom Brady were ``great leaders,'' and Meriweather said he'd rely on such veterans to ease his adjustment to the NFL.
Starting safeties Harrison and Eugene Wilson were sidelined for significant portions of last season, although Meriweather considers himself a defensive back, not just a safety.
He did play some quarterback at Apopka High School in Florida, but figures he threw about two passes in three seasons.
``I was pretty much a running quarterback, and, as for me being Tom Brady, no, that isn't possible,'' he said with a smile.
Like the other 15 players at the minicamp, including Miami teammate Kareem Brown, a defensive lineman taken in the fourth round, Meriweather will get his first look at Belichick's coaching technique this weekend.
He's more ``anxious'' than ``nervous,'' he said before his first workout with an organization he called ``a dynasty.''
And he appreciated that Belichick and other Patriots personnel talked with him about non-football matters.
``They pretty much just came down and got to know me as a person instead of listen to what everybody was saying about me,'' Meriweather said. ``I think coach Belichick is one of those people who has a great feel for people.''

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