Quick hits on Meriweather & more

INDIANAPOLIS -- Gathering some quick hits from the NFL Combine:

1. Meriweather 'didn't work out' in Chicago. With Bears coach Lovie Smith one of the first NFL coaches to speak with reporters, he was asked about former Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, who signed a one-year contract with Chicago after New England cut him in the preseason. Said Smith: "He came in and did some good things. It's tough when you haven't had an offseason. I know no one had an offseason last year, but he came into a tough situation and was always in a catch-up mode. Last year, it didn't work out completely the way Brandon and we wanted it, but not many things did. I really liked him being on our football team. He was a great guy who showed up every day to go to work. Again, for a lot of us, the season didn't go exactly the way we wanted it to."

2. Still takes defense and running football to win. Another thing Smith said that caught my attention was that "3 of the 4" final teams in the playoff picture played the same style -- great defense with the ability to run the football, and those two elements complementing the passing game. Smith didn't say which of the final four teams he was leaving out of that equation, but my feeling is that he was referencing the Patriots.

3. Condensed offseason programs. One change in the new collective bargaining agreement is that offseason programs will start later. Lions coach Jim Schwartz noted that the mid-April start means a more compressed schedule for the same amount of offseason work. This adds a twist to strength and conditioning coaches, who might have to get creative.

4. Avril, the Lions, the Patriots and free agency. While some have targeted Lions free-agent defensive end Cliff Avril as the type of player the Patriots need in free agency, it's hard to imagine him leaving the Lions after listening to Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz. "He's obviously a guy that's very important to us," Schwartz said, noting that Avril is young, fits the team's scheme and is durable. Schwartz added those are the type of players the team wants to keep around. As many have reported, expect a franchise tag for Avril before the March 5 deadline if the sides can't reach an extension.

5. A record 750 media credentials issued. The NFL has issued 750 media credentials for this year's combine (includes NFL.com and NFL Network). That's an all-time high, according to AFC Information manager Corry Rush.