FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots released offensive lineman Brian Waters Tuesday.
Signed to a two-year contract after the lockout in 2011, Waters played at a very high level that year, though he was at right guard instead of left guard for the first time in his career. He was chosen for the Pro Bowl.
Married with five children, Waters typically did not take part in the offseason program when he played for Kansas City, opting to spend as much time as possible with his family. It was the same in New England — when the Patriots began their OTAs and mandatory minicamp last offseason, coach Bill Belichick said that Waters was excused from participating.
But when training camp started, Waters still did not report to the team. The Patriots placed him on the reserve/did not report list, though they tried to entice him to return by offering to increase his 2012 salary from $2.5 million to $4 million.
The first sign the Patriots were fed up with Waters’s behavior came on the eve of the regular season when the team gave then-rookie Dont’a Hightower jersey No. 54, which Waters had worn the season before. A few days later, Waters’s nameplate was removed from his locker.
Without Waters, the Patriots had to change their plans for the offensive line last year. Dan Connolly, who was likely to have been the starting center, was moved to right guard and Ryan Wendell became the starting center.
Though Waters might have played for a team in Texas, close to his home and his family, the Patriots refused to release Waters from his contract. Since he spent the entire season on the reserve/did not report list, his contract tolled, and he remained under contract with the Patriots for 2013.
At the NFL Players Association’s annual meeting at the Super Bowl in February, Waters was approached about giving his side of the story, but he declined to comment. He was not in game shape.
So his time with New England, which started off so well, has ended with a single line on the league transaction wire.
Wilson is the new guy
Adrian Wilson told reporters Tuesday he didn’t want to talk about his time with the Arizona Cardinals, which ended when he was released in March after 12 years with them.
But the new Patriots safety made it clear there is a pretty large chip on his broad shoulders, that he feels he has something to prove after seeing his snaps decrease last season.
Asked about being compared with Rodney Harrison, who came to the Patriots in 2003 after the Chargers felt he was on the decline — and who became a difference-maker for the New England defense — Wilson took a moment to talk himself up instead.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I felt like I’ve had a pretty good career so far.
“Last year was last year. Obviously, things didn’t go my way as far as the way I wanted them to go. Obviously, players slow down as they get older, but they also have experience. They’ve seen a lot of things as far as football.
“To say that a person is not good enough, that wouldn’t be the right verbiage to use as far as that is concerned. I feel like I could help this team win. That’s pretty much what I’m here to do.”
Wilson, 33, signed a three-year, $5 million deal (with a $1 million signing bonus) with the Patriots in March.
Even as he acknowledged he isn’t as fast as he once was, he said his wealth of knowledge has developed over the years.
“I’ve gotten a lot smarter,” he said. “I used to take ridiculous chances on the football field. Just try to make a big play. Just try to make a splash play. I think now it’s different because you know formations and you know tendencies.
“You go through all that type of stuff. You pay more attention to it. As opposed to a young player that just looks at the formation as tricks. You don’t really go through the things in your head before the play happens.”
In 2011, Wilson rarely came off the field, playing in all but 15 of Arizona’s defensive snaps, and went to his fifth Pro Bowl, his fourth in a row.
But last year, he played in 83 percent of the defensive snaps, a number that dropped to 65 percent over the last seven games, which seemed to portend that his days in the desert were nearing their end.
If Wilson being slighted by the Cardinals in 2012 ignites his play this season, the Patriots will take it.
Since reporting for the offseason program, he has spent most of his time shuttling between Gillette Stadium and his hotel, doing everything he can to get acclimated to a new locker room, new teammates, a new defense.
After a dozen years with the same organization, being the new guy “is scary,” he said.
“Obviously, you want to come in with the right mind-set, and you just want to get along with the guys, and you want to kind of make sure you hang around them, get to know each and every guy.
“I think that’s probably really the biggest concern I have right now, is just trying to make sure I know all of the guys that I’m going to be playing with.
“Right now, we’re moving in the right direction.”
Asked about his new teammates in the Patriots secondary, Wilson called them “very talented” but noted their overall youth.
“We all can continue to learn,” he said, “and I think that’s probably the main thing that I try to tell those guys. We can all learn from each other and get better together.”
Devin McCourty in particular expressed an eagerness to learn from Wilson because of his experience, and deemed him to be the most physical presence New England has had in the defensive backfield since Harrison.
“I’ve been kind of watching him all over the field,” Wilson said of McCourty. “From playing corner one week to playing safety the next week. He’s a very versatile player and he’s good at both spots. It’s going pretty fun for us.”
Coming from an organization that hasn’t been synonymous with success over the years, Wilson gave “winning” as an example of how the Patriots do things differently than other NFL clubs.
“I think just the way they run things is totally different from anywhere else,” he said. “I think the winning mentality, it’s not pressure to them — or to us, now — going out there and expecting to win every game.”
Which is why, when asked why signing with New England was the right choice for him, he quickly answered, “Why not?”
Halloran gets invite
Nick Halloran noticed two missed calls on his phone early Tuesday morning. The 24-year-old is in the midst of finals for three graduate courses at Bentley this week, so he gets a pass for not picking up.
At 8:30, his agent, Sean Stellato, checked in again, with quite the wake-up call.
A three-year starter at tackle after his transfer from Boston College, Halloran has been invited to the Patriots’ rookie minicamp that will kick off Friday.
“Just amazing news, not a better way to start the day,” said the 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound Somerville native, who prepped at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols.
A two-time Northeast-10 Conference first team pick for the the Falcons, Halloran started his first two seasons at right tackle, protecting the blind side for lefthanded quarterback Bryant Johnson, and then shifted over to the left side last fall with Danny Guadagnoli directing the Falcons’ spread attack.
“We wanted him protecting the blindside, because in my opinion, he was the best offensive lineman in the league,” said Bentley coach Thom Boerman.
“When he transferred from BC, it was a lucky day for us. And when he first came here, we told him that a pro career was still within his reach. he came to us with a pretty good skill set. His size alone stands out, and physically, he is a pretty strong kid. He was just dominant in our league.”
Halloran undoubtedly made a favorable impressive at the Harvard Pro Day, March 14, where he worked out under the watchful eye of Patriots offensive line/assistant head coach Dante Scarnecchia. Only two other linemen were in attendance, guards John Collins (Roxbury Latin/Harvard) and Ryan Moores (Governor’s Academy/Middlebury), who has been invited to the Falcons’ rookie camp.
With Halloran the anchor up front, Bentley averaged 388 yards and 26.3 points per game in an 8-2 season in 2012, while controlling the ball for 33 minutes.
“When we needed an inch, or a yard, we went over Nick,” said Bentley line coach Rob Velasquez, who believes Halloran’s future is at guard, where he got his indoctrination to the college game at Boston College.
That would follow the path of former Bentley lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau, who started every game for the Cowboys in 2012, his fifth year in the league after originally being a seventh-round pick by the Panthers. Halloran also has touched base with a pair of his former teammates at BC now suiting up with the Colts, tackles Gosder Cherilus and Anthony Castonzo.
Halloran and Cherilus worked out together this winter at Mike Boyle’s strength & conditioning training center in Woburn. “Gosder and I talked about technique, and just having a ‘get after it attitude.’ He was very helpful.”
Velasquez said that Halloran nearly broke down and cried when they spoke Tuesday morning. “He said, ‘This is my shot,’ ’’ said the coach.
The Patriots did not select an offensive lineman in the draft, but they reportedly have also agreed to deals with guard/tackle Josh Kline (Kent State) and center Matt Stankiewitch.
The Patriots have not officially announced their rookie free agents, but several reports have said New Haven QB Ryan Osiecki, who owns nearly every Charger passing record, including TDs (91) and yards (9.572), has been invited to rookie camp.