Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/22/13
By HOWARD ULMAN AP Sports Writer FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- 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 later. "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 divisional round. 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 sport." 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 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 season. 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 new teammates. "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."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

The Baltimore Orioles tied an MLB record they can’t be proud of

Report: Knicks afraid of Porzingis rebelling, hurting their image

Report: Blake Griffin opts out of contract to become free agent

Report: Wolves targeting Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, other point guards in free agency

Conor McGregor’s coach says tentative plans include a return to UFC in 2017

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Mets open for business on the trade market

Markelle Fultz believes the Sixers are already a playoff team

Report: Jimmy Butler’s attitude toward Fred Hoiberg made players ‘uncomfortable’

St. Louis Cardinals to hold first LGBTQ Pride Night

John Mara: Extending Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t team’s No. 1 priority

Mike Trout reportedly wanted to sign ‘lifetime deal’ with Angels

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Kicking it: David Villa isn't interested in a 'retirement tour'

Box Score 6/23: Philly continues to trust the process

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Gary Payton Award for best trash talk of the year

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Kicking it: David Villa isn't interested in a 'retirement tour'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker