Safety Wilson comes to Pats for Super Bowl chance
Adrian Wilson gives the New England Patriots the physical
presence they’ve lacked in the defensive backfield. They give the
former Arizona Cardinal a chance for a rare playoff appearance.
And the five-time Pro Bowl strong safety says he hasn’t lost a
step despite diminished playing time last season.
”The situation last year was strictly a coaches’ decision,”
Wilson, who signed last week, said in a conference call Thursday.
”Physically, I feel great.”
He spent all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Cardinals before
being released March 8. Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasted little
time going after him and he signed with New England eight days
”Whenever coach Belichick calls, you answer. That’s not a call
that you send to voicemail,” Wilson said. ”Obviously, being able
to be competitive every year and being able to play not only for
the playoffs and the division championship, but also to have a
chance to go to the Super Bowl” drew him to the Patriots.
The Cardinals missed the playoffs in Wilson’s first seven
seasons. Then their fortunes changed with an appearance in the
Super Bowl in the 2008 season, a 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh
Steelers. They went 10-6 the next season, their best record while
Wilson was with them, and won a wild-card game losing in the
But they missed the playoffs the past three seasons and went
5-11 last year.
The Patriots reached the postseason in 10 of the past 12 seasons
and won three of their five Super Bowls in that span. But they lost
their last two and have been missing a hard-hitting safety the past
four seasons after Rodney Harrison retired following the 17-14 loss
to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl after the 2007 season.
”He came to New England and won a championship,” Wilson said.
”I don’t compare myself to anybody. I really want to stay away
from the whole Rodney Harrison comparison. He’s a great player.
He’s done a lot in this league. He’s probably going to go into the
Hall of Fame. I’m just trying to find out what my role is for the
Patriots and just compete with all the rest of the guys and,
hopefully, I’ll have a role on the team.”
His signing, plus the trade for 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback
Aqib Talib last Nov. 1, gives the Patriots size they lacked in the
secondary. Wilson is 6-3 and weighs 230.
”Whatever I put on tape, that’s what I am,” Wilson said. ”I
came in in 2001, so there weren’t all these rules where you can’t
hit players and all this other stuff. I was brought up in that
toughness type of aspect and the aspect of setting the tone for the
defense, being that guy that would go out and do whatever he had to
do to let the offense know what type of day it was going to be.
”I’ve tried to taper my game a little bit toward the rules and
what it is now. Football is physical. Football is a man’s
Wilson is one of six NFL players with 25 interceptions and 25
sacks. He made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and every year from 2008
through 2011. He has 27 interceptions and 25 1/2 sacks, including
eight in 2005, the most ever by a defensive back.
The Patriots’ pass defense improved when they moved Devin
McCourty to safety from cornerback after the sixth game. Steve
Gregory started at the other safety spot for all but the four games
he missed due to injury.
It got even better once Talib arrived and was able to provide
one-on-one coverage against top receivers.
Wilson had visits to other teams set up after being released but
felt they wouldn’t compete for the Super Bowl. And he said it was
”a difficult situation” leaving his only pro team, especially
after he took a pay cut to stay with the Cardinals before last
But he’s only 33 years old and has a much better chance to win a
championship even if he has ”zero connections” with any of his
”I feel like that’s a good thing because you can start fresh
and you can let the guys understand what type of player you are and
what type of person that you are,” Wilson said. ”We’re all trying
to get to the same goal and that’s to win a Super Bowl.
”That’s the only thing that I’m coming to do.”