FOXBOROUGH — To hear the words “I’m a Patriot now’’ come tumbling from the lips of Darrelle Revis certainly would have produced the same reaction for Jets coach Rex Ryan as the irritating sound of fingernails scratching a chalkboard.
Yet, despite his previous affiliation with the archrival Jets, the only sound Revis heard Friday morning when he arrived at the upper-level playing field of Gillette Stadium — attired in a No. 24 blue practice jersey — was thunderous applause.
The former All-Pro cornerback wrapped up his second day of camp with the Patriots by joining his teammates in the secondary for an autograph session with the fans.
“It’s been awesome, but it’s been kind of weird in a way,’’ Revis said when asked about the reception he’s received from fans. “I’m a Patriot now. That’s how things go and you just got to roll with it.
“They’ve accepted me and I’m just happy to be here and play here.’’
Asked about his use of “weird” in his description, Revis broke into a laugh.
“Because I was on the other side, with another team, a rival,” he said. “But I’m here now and I’m just so excited, man. I’m in the best shape of my career and I’m just happy to be out here and ready to play ball.’’
It greatly pained Ryan when the Jets traded Revis to the Buccaneers in 2013 for a pair of draft picks (a first-rounder in 2013 and fourth-rounder in 2014). But the Patriots’ signing of Revis was more than just a shot across the bow in the bitter rivalry with the Jets.
“He’s a great player,’’ Tom Brady said Thursday. “He challenges us, he challenges the receivers, and it’s nice to go against someone like that. We’ve had great corners here in the past, but he’s a great competitor. Having the chance to compete against him on another team, I certainly appreciate having him on our team.’’
It probably explained why Brady was quick to go over to Kenbrell Thompkins and pat the second-year receiver out of Cincinnati on the helmet after he beat Revis for a touchdown during a red zone passing drill.
“Tom is a great competitor,’’ Revis said. “You know as well as everybody out there. We’re just trying to compete out there right now and get better as a team every day. That’s all we’re trying to focus on. There are really no individual matchups here. We just try to go out, work hard, and make everybody better.’’
Revis no doubt will elevate his compete level as camp wears on. But, after the second day, he was still about acclimating himself to his new surroundings.
“Coming off the ACL injury was tough for me,’’ said Revis, who missed all but the first two games in 2012 with the injury, then played all 16 games in 2013 despite not being 100 percent healthy. “I still wasn’t where I wanted to be physically as a player. So this is my first offseason where I can really focus on, not rehabbing, but just working out — working out and having a full offseason where I can just do that.’’
Revis hosted new teammates Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan, and Tavon Wilson for a training session in Phoenix during the offseason.
“They came out and we just worked,’’ Revis said. “We busted our butts, and it was good for us to be out there and get more camaraderie with each other and just hang out with each other every day. We were out there for four months. That was great.
“It brings more chemistry to the secondary, and guys were willing to do it.’’
While there is no way to understate Revis’s presence in the secondary — as well as that of fellow free agent acquisitions Brandon Browner and Patrick Chung, who returned from Philadelphia for a second stop with the Patriots — coach Bill Belichick isn’t so concerned about Revis winning personal matchups at this point.
“I wouldn’t say it’s not there, but I don’t think it’s there anywhere near to the degree where it’s going to be there when we start getting into a lot of competitive situations, where you are working against certain guys in competitive situations,’’ Belichick said. “Not that it’s not competitive now, but it can only be so competitive when you’re not in pads. We don’t want to go out there blowing people up and getting guys hurt and all that.
“It’s still kind of a teaching tempo, but at some point that will change.’’
Revis said his first order of business in Foxborough was to sit down with Belichick to gain an understanding with his boss.
“Our relationship is great,’’ Revis said. “We communicate well. Like I said, Bill is open to anything. Being on the other side, you look at him totally different, but being here, he’s open. He’s open to anything, and our friendship is great.’’
That alone is likely enough to give Ryan agita. But the Jets coach also knows he now has to game plan against Revis and Brady together.
“We’ll have the same color jersey on Sunday,” Revis said.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.