FOXBOROUGH — Organized team activities aren’t the most interesting part of the NFL calendar, though the return of a team to the field always spurs questions about players and a flurry of assumptions based on workouts without pads.
But when there’s a big-name player on the Patriots roster, it certainly adds to the intrigue. Last year, Tim Tebow brought a larger-than-usual swell of media to Gillette Stadium for spring workouts. This year, Darrelle Revis did the same.
The veteran cornerback, the most talented and highest-priced free agent New England has brought in in years, was on the field in a Patriots helmet (players don’t wear numbered jerseys during offseason work) in full view of cameras for the first time.
After the 90-minute workout, he was in front of the microphones and recorders to talk about these early weeks as a member of the team.
“From the inside out, it’s totally different,” the former Jets All-Pro said. “It’s things that you didn’t expect — you know, how this organization is run from top to bottom.
“You’ve got to [take] your hat off to Mr. Kraft for how this organization operates. They want to be a winning organization, and I’m happy those guys gave me an opportunity to come in here and be a part of it.”
Revis was a first-round pick of the Jets in 2007 out of Pittsburgh, and spent six years in New York before being traded to Tampa Bay last year. In his final season with the Jets, Revis tore his left ACL, the first major injury of his career. He spent one year with the Buccaneers, and was released March 12.
Within hours, he signed with New England.
Revis played in all 16 games last season for the Buccaneers, and ProFootballFocus.com ranked him as the best starting cornerback in the league despite coming off the ACL injury and not being at full strength for part of the season.
During an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Tom Brady joked that he’s already tired of throwing in Revis’s direction during workouts.
Revis downplayed any success he’s had against his new teammate to this point.
“You know, it’s always a defensive and offensive competition going on, and I think both sides — I think what we’re really trying to do is just get better at the end of the day,” Revis said. “And it’s good to have the same jersey on as Tom and everybody else on this team from just the past and being across the sideline from each other.”
OTAs are a time when coaches install the playbook, and for Revis, it’s also a time to get in shape and learn a defense that’s new to him.
“It’s different terminology,” he said. “Our program is run different, and I’m just trying to adjust to coach [Bill] Belichick’s program. That’s all I’m trying to do is learn and absorb as much as I can, and just trying to get better.”
The learning process includes getting to know teammates in the secondary, and for them to get to know him.
“It could take a while,” said Revis. “As of right now, we’re in OTAs, and this is the time where we can glue together, not just as a secondary, but also as a defense, and also as a team as well.
“We’re all in this together, and everybody’s working hard, and that’s what we’re all trying to do — trying to get prepared for the season and use these OTAs as something for us to build toward the season.”
Cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer was asked about the process of getting everyone on the same page.
“Every individual is different, so each case is probably going to be a little bit different, so you just kind of work with, ‘OK, what was their experience, what have they had here, how will it fit into what we’re doing?’ and you just kind of take it individual by individual case,” he said.
“Our ultimate goal is to try to make each individual the best possible player they can be to help the team, and we’ll ask them to do numerous different things.
“As we build that way and the individuals get better, the group gets better and then the team gets better.”
Revis said he has had near-constant communication with the team’s other defensive backs, and he has been talking to players who have been in New England about the defense. He specifically mentioned Devin McCourty and second-year cornerback Logan Ryan (a “very smart guy”).
Though Revis clearly has things to offer as he heads into his eighth season, he was quick to say he’s not trying to step on anyone’s toes, and sounded as though he’ll ease into a leadership position.
“I’m just trying to take this time to get to know the guys, and for them to know me as well,” he said. “I’m just trying to come in here and learn as much as I can and improve and get this defensive scheme down and just keep on working.”
Follow Shalise Manza Young on Twitter at @shalisemyoung.