Could Brandon Meriweather play this week?

The Washington Redskins' defense needs help, and strong safety Brandon Meriweather has yet to play a game for the team after signing as a free agent this offseason. A cornucopia of knee-injury issues has kept Meriweather off the field so far, and the various ways in which Redskins coach Mike Shanahan envisioned using him to help the team's blitz packages, run defense and coverage schemes have been on hold as a result.

Meriweather says he intends to practice fully this week, and if he's able to do that the team will have to decide whether he can play Sunday against the Panthers or if they'll continue to hold him out through next week's bye. Per Mike Jones:

Meriweather practiced one day last week to test out his knee, and after experiencing some soreness, watched the final two sessions of the week.

"Last week, I think was a great week for me," Meriweather said. "I went out there, I got to be around my teammates, got to practice a little bit. Got to get back in the flow of things, but it was a good week. Unfortunately, I had to sit out the next couple days. But I'm looking for this week to be better."

Meriweather said that he has improved significantly since the Tampa game, and that he has gotten better since last week as well.

"A lot better? Yes. Am I ready to play? I don’t know yet," he said. "That's something I hope I'm going to figure out this week."

There seems little doubt that the Redskins could benefit from Meriweather's presence on the field. He's not a great cover safety and won't do much to help them cover better, I don't think. But when Shanahan decided to sign him, it was because he and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett believed they could use him in a variety of ways. When the Redskins' defense has had good coverage games this year, it's been because of their ability to alter schemes and looks from play to play. Meriweather would help their flexibility on defense, which is critical because injuries have sapped them of the ability to outplay offenses on the strength of their personnel.