When the New England Patriots decided to place Adrian Wilson on the injured reserve, is signified the end of a wish for a solid starter at strong safety who could be a veteran presence for the rest of the secondary on the field. Wilson was expected to fulfill a significant role on this team after signing a three-year deal that was a surprise considering his age and the fact that many viewed him as a declining player in his last season with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards cut him, and I defended Wilson and criticized the Cardinals for overreacting on his struggles in coverage. It looks like I was the one missing something, because Wilson looked like a declining player this preseason and showed up poorly in coverage. I was confident enough in his ability defending short and intermediate routes, and I believed that his ability defending those passes would make up for his susceptibility to getting burned.
That wasn’t the case, though, and the man nicknamed “The Hulk” for his massive frame and ability to keep himself in tip-top shape was placed on the I.R. under the designation of a “hamstring” injury. To many of us, it just looks like a courtesy from the Patriots to allow a veteran player to get paid instead of being outright released. Adrian Wilson represents a disappointment, only because we expected him to fulfill an important role as a starter on this defense. Without him, it’s either another year of Steve Gregory starting (that’s clearly not ideal) or the need for Duron Harmon or Tavon Wilson to make the jump (neither look ready, although I have significantly more hope for Wilson).
Speaking of Duron Harmon, the Rutgers product could develop into a quality starter in the future if all goes well, and his versatility to play at either free or strong safety bodes well for the Patriots, as the Pats don’t traditionally restrict their strong safeties to just playing in the box (something that probably hurt Wilson). Harmon told the Boston Herald that he viewed Adrian Wilson as a mentor, “Definitely, I mean, because he’s such a, not only a great player, but a great mentor. That’s somebody I really looked up to, took every word that he said to me to heart because he’s been in this league for 12 years and played great football: Pro Bowls; All-Pro teams; he’s went to the Super Bowl. To see somebody like that go down, it’s tough because that’s somebody that I’ve really looked up to.”
Harmon has one trait of Wilson’s that can help him succeed and develop, and that is the fact that he is a hardworker, as stated by free safety Devin McCourty in the Herald article.