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Wilson a piece to defensive puzzle - The Sun Chronicle : Patriots

Wilson a piece to defensive puzzle

Pats sign safety to 3-year deal

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Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013 12:00 am

FOXBORO - Adrian Wilson wore No. 24 during his 12-year career with the Arizona Cardinals, but that number belongs to Kyle Arrington in New England.

Players often offer new teammates sweet deals to regain their old number, but Wilson's offer may be one of the most unique in NFL history - and for Arrington, very practical.

"I told him I know he just had a new baby," Wilson told reporters via conference call on Thursday. "I know he signed a new contract, but I offered him a year's supply of Pampers. Hopefully he gets back to me."

That might be an offer Arrington can't refuse.

Both are newly enriched by the Patriots, having been signed to lucrative contracts in an effort to shore up the pass defense. Wilson's signing is seen as one of those "last piece of the puzzle" things, bringing the Patriots a proven, hard-hitting safety that gives them a better option over the middle than the pairing of converted cornerback Devin McCourty and undersized Steve Gregory gave them last year.

Bill Belichick is also hoping that Wilson will bring the Patriots the same sort of leadership that Rodney Harrison did several years ago, both on the field and in the locker room.

"I was a follower first," Wilson said. "I was a guy that first came into the league, I watched veteran guys that were already on the team. I took my back seat to learn from all those guys and molded myself into what I wanted to be as a player.

"We weren't playing with 10-plus Pro Bowl players on the team, so a lot of our work was probably a lot more than what the other teams that were good was," he added. "The commitment level that I have (is) to not only playing the game as far as playing football, but also the commitment to the classroom and doing what you have to do in the film study and making sure that you're on the same page with all the rest of the guys and making sure you understand each guy's strengths and each guy's weaknesses. I feel like once you have that, you can go out there and play anybody and be successful."

Wilson, 33, was a third-round draft pick of the Cardinals out of North Carolina State in 2001, said that he knew which call to return immediately when he first entered free agency.

"Whenever Coach Belichick calls, you answer," he said. "That's not a call that you send to voicemail. Obviously, it's 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.

"Ultimately, at the end of the day, I'm going to come in and compete with everybody else and see what my role is on the team I have no problems with that," he said. "Coach Belichick was very upfront and I have nothing but total respect for him and what the organization has done throughout the years. 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."

Wilson, who signed a three-year contract for a reported $5 million, said that what you see of him on tape is what the Patriots will get.

"I believe my tape doesn't lie," he said. "I think whatever I put on tape, that's what I am. You can't change what you put on tape. 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," he added. "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 there in New England now just go out there and be Adrian and be who I am."

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