Adrian Wilson knows he had a down year in 2010.
Yes, he made the Pro Bowl, and his 88 tackles were more than he had in any of the previous four seasons, but he had troubles in coverage for a defense that struggled all season long.
And he’s heard the criticism.
“It’s very heartbreaking to me,” he told the assembled media Wednesday. “But at the same time, it’s very few of them.
“Continue to write it and I’ll continue to read it. Write as much negative stuff as you can, please. Do me a favor.”
Wilson, never one to need extra motivation, may have found some. That’s not good news for opposing offenses, as the 11th-year pro is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the game.
Oh, he’s also healthy now, too, though he refuses to use an abductor injury, one he suffered early in the season, as an excuse. He said he can play hurt, which is what he’s supposed to do anyway.
“It’s my responsibility to the team to be a leader, to be out there and show those young guys that even though you’re hurt you can still play through pains like that, and that was my whole message,” he said.
While the hope is for Wilson to stay healthy in 2011, one young player he may hope to teach is rookie Patrick Peterson.
The fifth pick in the draft out of LSU, Peterson will likely find his way onto the field quite a bit early in the season because the Cardinals traded away starting corner back Dominique Rodgers Cromartie.
“We’re not going to have a funeral for him,” Wilson said.
No, they’re not, but the team does have to get the rookie Peterson up to speed, and quickly. So far Wilson seems comfortable with the new guy’s progress.
“His confidence level makes me confident, he knows the playbook, he knows the things that we want him to do, and he doesn’t talk back, which is great,” he said of the rookie. “He’s one of those kids that, you could say he’s very well-rounded and he wants to be great, and that’s something you always want in a kid like that.”
Peterson’s growth will certainly help the Cardinals, but Wilson knows things will be better this year — they have to be.
“We knew the circumstances, we were in a bad spot,” he said. “We went through five quarterbacks, or something like that, whatever, and we could never get into rhythm, and things just started snowballing downhill.
“That’s where veteran leadership has to step up, too.”
Wilson said that didn’t happen as much as it needed to one year ago, but that things will be different, and hopefully better, this season.
ArizonaSports.com’s Craig Grialou contributed to this report