Buccaneers cornerback Eugene Wilson is eager to play his former team, the New England Patriots, on Sunday night. The preseason home opener against the defending AFC champions also happens to fall on Wilson's 28th birthday. While Wilson is facing his former team, he is not overly excited about going against his former teammates.
"I feel that it is unique that it is my birthday and we're playing them on my birthday," said Wilson. "That is unique. We're going to go out and play our game. It will be cool to see some of the guys on the team."
In his five-year career with New England, Wilson has played in 62 regular season games with 55 starts. He also has played in 10 playoff games, and started eight of those games. Many times in the NFL, players that leave one team feel a desire to have a big game when they face their former club. That sentiment seems to be lost in regards to how Wilson feels about going up against the Patriots.
"No, I don't have anything special for them," said Wilson. "It is just another game. It is just a former team."
Wilson had some big seasons for the Patriots. In 2003 as a rookie, Wilson started 15 games at safety with 66 tackles and four interceptions. Wilson helped the Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVIII. Then in his sophomore campaign, Wilson again was starting at safety for the Patriots and helping them to repeat as Super Bowl champions. In 2004, Wilson virtually duplicated his rookie year numbers when he recorded 67 tackles and four interceptions while starting 14 games.
In Wilson's third NFL season, he started all 16 games and led the Patriots secondary with 65 tackles, and chipped in one interception. New England lost in the playoffs that season to Denver after beating Jacksonville in the Wild Card round. After his third season, Wilson's career hit some rough patches as he was injured in 2006 and started four games before being placed on injured reserve. Last year, Wilson started six games and appeared in 11 contests for the Patriots. Wilson was a backup for the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.
Wilson entered free agency and the Buccaneers pursued him to play cornerback for Tampa Bay. Wilson signed with the Bucs on March 17. With starters Ronde Barber and Phillip Buchanon solid in their positions, and rookie first-round pick Aqib Talib seemingly penciled in as the nickel cornerback, Wilson appears to be the fourth cornerback at this time. Given his spot on the depth chart, he will probably see plenty of action against his former team on Sunday night.
"Just in general it will be a fun time," said Wilson. "I always have fun when I'm out there playing and we're going to try and get a win."
While Wilson had played his entire NFL career at safety, the Bucs were inclined to put him back at his college position of cornerback. Tampa Bay held Wilson in high regard when he came out of college, but were not in a position to draft him because of the draft picks traded for head coach Jon Gruden. Wilson discussed how his return to corner with the Buccaneers was going.
"It is coming along real well," said Wilson. "I feel like I have a good grasp of what we're trying to get done, and it is just coming real well.
"One of the reasons why they wanted me to come here, was to bring my physical play to the corner spot. Because their corners do play physical here so it is a good fit for me. It has been an adjustment of coming from the angle on the outside where as a safety is coming head on. I'm used to doing some hitting and banging down there. That won't be something I'm not used to."
BUCS BREAK CAMP The Buccaneers canceled their morning walk-through and ended training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports on Thursday morning. The Bucs will continue to prepare for the preseason games and start of the regular season with practices at One Buc Place in Tampa, Fla. starting on Friday.
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