|Safety Adrian Wilson needs two interceptions and 1.5 sacks to reach 20 in both categories for his career.|
FLAGSTAFF – Adrian Wilson has a 20/20 vision.
The numbers mean something to a defender – 20 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career, a double that few have conquered. Only nine players in history have reached those combined totals; if the Cardinals' Pro Bowl safety can make at least two interception this year and 1½ sacks, he will join the group.
Ask Wilson, and he'll say the 20/20 club is not the foremost thought in his mind. But the statistical goal means more than just numbers or exclusivity. It helps create a legacy.
"It is something I set out to do earlier in my career when (veteran free safety) Robert Griffith was here," Wilson said.
"I asked him what was one of the things safeties should strive for to be considered one of the best, and he was like, 'It's always 20-20, or 30 picks and 30 sacks.' It's something that I want to accomplish."
The Wilson in training camp 2009 is much different than the one of camp, 2008. A year ago, Wilson was still feeling frustrated after missing half of 2007 with a foot injury that dropped him from Pro Bowl talk. His contract was nearing an end, and he was wondering when extension conversations would pick up.
The way 2008 unfolded – including the offseason after – soothed those thoughts.
He was one of the leaders of a team that made the Super Bowl, becoming, in many ways, the face of the long-suffering franchise. He returned to the Pro Bowl. After the season, Wilson received the long-anticipated contract extension, a five-year deal that should keep Wilson in Arizona until he retires.
General manager Rod Graves said the package Wilson brings to the team, on and off the field, can't be easily replaced.
Winning a Super Bowl tops Wilson's remaining to-do list. But the 20/20 group is there too, and more easily attained.
"One thing you know about Adrian, he's putting the team in front of his personal goals," secondary coach Teryl Austin said. "But that gives him something to shoot for. I think it's outstanding, because at the end of this year, if he reaches those goals, he's going to have three or four sacks, three or four picks minimum, and that means we've probably had a pretty good year on defense.
"Adrian wants to be one of the all-time great Cardinal players. He never wanted to do it anywhere else, He wanted to be here, he wanted to be part of turning this franchise around. That's big. He puts the team first and he wants a lasting legacy because he wants to be remembered for that."
The sacks seem like they could come more frequently – it looks like new defensive coordinator Bill Davis will embrace Wilson's use near the line of scrimmage – although Wilson said it's difficult to tell with the Cards still in the middle of installing the playbook.
Not that Wilson is worrying about that. His message in camp has been consistent – he is thinking about San Francisco and the season opener and little else. That's where the focus is and that's where it will stay.
For the most part.
While 20/20 is next, Wilson brings up the idea of reaching 30/30. Only one NFL player has ever done that – former safety Rodney Harrison, who finished with 30½ sacks and 34 interceptions (Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has a good chance at 30/30, with 28 interceptions to go with his 33 sacks).
Wilson wants to cut into what he has left for those lofty totals. Wilson's place in Cards' history seems assured given his importance during the recent renaissance. But maybe he can achieve just a little bit more.
"It is funny when people look at players, they always look at the team and how successful the team has been over the course of many years," Wilson said. "They always try to throw that into how good a player is. I just want to continue to do what I am doing, at a high level, and let the chips fall where they may."