New team, no problem for Waters
FOXBOROUGH - Entering his 12th NFL season, offensive lineman Brian Waters decided he could be picky.
The Chiefs released Waters in July after 11 seasons. Even at age 34, Waters said his phone never stopped ringing for weeks after his release from teams interested in his services.
But the phone call that lifted Waters out of his seat came from the Patriots.
“It’s a great organization, why not? The record speaks for itself,’’ Waters said yesterday. “It’s a football team that’s a contender year in and year out, and I’ve had the opportunity to be around the staff and a number of players, got an opportunity to spend some time with Mr. Kraft during the offseason, so it seemed like the perfect fit for me.’’
Patriots coach Bill Belichick shared the same feelings about Waters. The Patriots are looking for depth as they wait for Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly to rehab from preseason injuries. Waters is a five-time Pro Bowl selection with experience playing in an offensive scheme that has enough similarities that it should help in his transition.
“Brian has a good level of experience,’’ Belichick said. “I think his playing style is one that we feel like - the way that he plays the position is kind of the way we feel like we would want it played. I think the fact that he has a little familiarity with our system relative to what Kansas City is doing and all that doesn’t hurt. That’s not an overriding factor; it’s just part of it. We’ve gone up against him a number of times. I have a lot of respect for Brian - his play, his professionalism, what he brings to the team.’’
One challenge for Waters, however, is he likely will have to shift to right guard with the Patriots, a position he has played “a little bit’’ in his career.
“You just have to flip everything in your mind when you’ve been doing something for a long time, but I don’t think it will take me too long to get it,’’ Waters said.
Waters already has the respect of his new teammates, including Logan Mankins, who agrees with Belichick’s assessment that Waters plays the position the way the Patriots want it to be played.
“Oh yeah, that’s why I was a fan of him,’’ Mankins said. “He plays like I do. We like that here.’’
Yesterday, Waters practiced with the Patriots for the first time as the team prepares for its season opener against the Dolphins. Waters, who is 6 feet 3 inches and 320 pounds, had been left to work out on his own previously, yet he is getting ready to see action in the opener Sept. 12.
“That’s what I’m preparing for; I think that’s what everybody in here is preparing for,’’ Waters said. “I don’t know any other way to prepare for it. If it happens, that’s the coaches’ decision, but that’s what I’m preparing for.’’
The Patriots signed Waters to a two-year contract worth up to $5.5 million, which would indicate the team sees starting potential in him. Last season, Waters lost playing time to rookie guard Jon Asamoah. After 11 years, Waters said he wasn’t upset with the Chiefs for releasing him and called the decision mutual.
“Honestly I look at this as a great opportunity for me,’’ Waters said. “The ideal of playing your whole career with the same team, it’s unrealistic if you play for a long period of time. I’ve had the blessing of being in Kansas City for 11 years and I’m having another great opportunity here.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.