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Sports

March 22, 2013

Safety Wilson comes to Patriots for Super Bowl chance

FOXBOROUGH — 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.”

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