Adrian Phillips has yet to set foot inside the New England Patriots’ locker room, but the veteran safety already feels at home with his new club.
Phillips, who signed with New England in March, explained his acclimation process Thursday in an interview with Patriots team reporter Megan O’Brien.
“That’s a testament to those guys to embrace me the way that they did and to just treat me like I’ve been there for so long and not even meeting me face to face,” Phillips said. “It’s a huge testament to them, and it’s a huge testament to the coaches. It’s showing that they’re real people that just really want to know the best of you and just really want to see what type of person you are and embrace you and bring you into the winning culture. It’s real cool to be a part of that.”
Phillips spent the last six seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. He earned first-team All-Pro honors as a special teamer in 2018 before missing half of last season with a broken arm.
The 28-year-old joins a veteran-laden safety group led by longtime starters Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. Fellow newcomers Cody Davis (free agent) and Kyle Dugger (second-round draft pick) round out a depth chart that also features Terrence Brooks, Malik Gant and Adarius Pickett.
McCourty praised Phillips upon his arrival, saying the versatile defensive back will “bring another dimension” to New England’s secondary. Phillips played strong safety, free safety and linebacker for the Chargers.
“(The Patriots are) a first-class organization,” Phillips told O’Brien. “You notice that from afar and you wonder, ‘How does that keep happening?’ So actually being in the mix, you see that, and being in the meetings with the guys and the DBs, you see why they’re always in the position that they’re in. It’s just great to be a part of.”
It remains to be seen when Phillips and the rest of his Patriots teammates will be allowed to visit Gillette Stadium for practices and workouts. All NFL facilities remain closed to players amid the COVID-19 pandemic, though coaches will be permitted to return Friday.
“Looking for a new team, free agency can be a stressful time for some players,” Phillips said. “And actually getting on this team, it felt like it was a weight lifted off my back. Now you can just focus on football. And then, one thing after another, it just starts pounding on you. So you just try to find some light in the world and some joy and just take it day by day.”