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New England Patriots

New safety Wilson ready to send message to Patriots secondary

  • FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson (24) levels Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Paul Connors, File)

    FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson (24) levels Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Paul Connors, File)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals' Adrian Wilson (24) smiles as he shakes hands with teammate  Early Doucet as defensive players are introduced prior to an NFL football game between the Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals' Adrian Wilson (24) smiles as he shakes hands with teammate Early Doucet as defensive players are introduced prior to an NFL football game between the Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson (24) levels Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Paul Connors, File)

    FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson (24) levels Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Paul Connors, File)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson (24) levels Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Paul Connors, File)
  • FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals' Adrian Wilson (24) smiles as he shakes hands with teammate  Early Doucet as defensive players are introduced prior to an NFL football game between the Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
  • FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2012 file photo, Arizona Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson (24) levels Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. With Wilson at strong safety, the New England Patriots have a new physical presence in the secondary. The newly-signed Wilson, who spent the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Patriots as a free agent. (AP Photo/Paul Connors, File)

The Patriots hope Adrian Wilson is the second coming of Rodney Harrison: a veteran strong safety who finds success in New England at the end of his career. But Wilson, who signed with the Patriots last week, doesn’t want to go there.

“I really want to stay away from the whole Rodney Harrison comparison,” Wilson said yesterday during his introductory conference call with the New England media. “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 have a role with the team.”

It seems Wilson is not only aware of New England’s veteran free agent success stories, like Harrison, but also of the veteran free agent busts like Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth and Jonathan Fanene, the Patriots big defensive signing last offseason who never even made it out of training camp.

There’s a chance the 33-year-old Wilson will flop with the Patriots. After all, the 12-year veteran saw his playing time decrease in Arizona last season (he finished with 39 tackles, three sacks and one interception in 15 games), and the Cardinals did cut him two weeks ago.

But Wilson was named an All-Pro as recently as 2011 (48 tackles, 14 passes defended, one interception), one of four times he’s earned that honor (’06, ’08, ’09, ’11). He’s also been to five Pro Bowls (’06, ’08-11) and he is one of only six players in NFL history to have 25 sacks and 25 interceptions. He believes that, physically, he’s ready to add to his impressive career numbers of 716 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 27 interceptions, 100 passes defended and 16 forced fumbles.

“I feel good,” Wilson said. “The situation last year was strictly a coaches’ decision. I don’t think that had anything to do with me losing a step, but obviously nobody gets younger, they only get older. Physically I feel great. I take great care of my body, so that’s not an issue.”

He may not want the Harrison comparisons, but the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Wilson certainly sounded like a the hard-hitting Harrison when he was talking about his own physical style of play.

“I came in in 2001, so there weren’t all these rules where you can’t hit players and all this other stuff,” Wilson said. “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. … Football is physical, football is a man’s sport. I just hope that I can convey that same message to the secondary that we have in New England now.”

Wilson will add size and experience to a safety position that last year was both small (Steve Gregory 5-11, 200 and Devin McCourty 5-10, 195) and young (then-rookie Tavon Wilson). Wilson said he has no personal connections with anyone on the roster, but he has already introduced himself to another member of the secondary during his recent time in Foxborough.

“I was really just trying to get my number from Kyle Arrington, to be honest with you,” Wilson admitted.

Wilson said Arrington hadn’t decided if he would give up his No. 24, but there’s an interesting offer on the table.

“I told him I know he just had a new baby. I know he signed a new contract, but I offered him a year’s supply of Pampers,” Wilson said. “Hopefully he gets back to me.”

Even if his old number was taken, there was still no other place Wilson wanted to be.

“Whenever Coach Belichick calls, you answer. That’s not a call you send to voicemail,” Wilson said before adding, “New England was definitely my first choice. I don’t know what all the reports were saying that I wanted to stay out West, but that wasn’t true. It wasn’t a hard sell, but at the same time, talking to Coach Belichick and kind of getting an understanding of what he wanted from me, I just felt like it was the right fit.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3371 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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