FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Patriots' preseason finale at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night came when the starting defense took the field, and Josh Barrett, not Brandon Meriweather, received the start at safety.
The bumps in the road continue to come for Meriweather, who saw extensive playing time in the second half of the game with the reserve defensive unit on the field. The former first-round pick has seen his playing time slide as the team rotates personnel at the safety position.
Meriweather said after the game that he was neither surprised nor concerned with his situation.
"Coach always tells us [to] be ready to play for 60 minutes," he said. "At any point he can put you in or take you out. ...Coach is going to do whatever he thinks is best for the team, and everybody else just has to live with it."
Coach Bill Belichick was asked, in general, if anything can be read into the order in which players took the field.
"I think some of that is reflected by the way it was played last week," said Belichick, who started Meriweather on Saturday in Detroit. "We want to see different people with different people on our team and against different people with our opponents."
Meanwhile, it was Barrett's first game action since 2009, after having spent all of last season on injured reserve, and missing all of training camp before returning to practice last week.
"It was good getting out there after a long hiatus of being injured," Barrett said. "I think there's obviously going to be stuff to improve on, but it felt good getting out there."
While his playing time with the top defensive unit is a positive sign for the fourth-year veteran, Barrett's spot on the 53-man roster, which will be decided by Saturday, is far from secure.
"I feel like that's going to be a decision left up to the coaching staff," Barrett said of any pending decisions on his roster status. "All I can do is worry about my job and approach it like that."