For the past five years, Victor Hobson has seen the New England Patriots through the prism of an outsider – in more ways than one.
As a member of the Pats' AFC East rivals, the New York Jets, he would compete against Bill Belichick and company at least twice a year (in '06, they played three times, including the playoffs). And in New York's 3-4 defensive scheme, the 6-0, 252-pound linebacker typically lined up on the outside.
Today, however, Hobson is seeing the Pats-Jets rivalry much differently.
"There's a difference between seeing someone on the field and competing against them and getting to know them as individuals, as a family, being in the locker room with them every day," he observed earlier this week at the annual Patriots Charitable Foundation Golf Tournament. "I never had any preconceived opinions of anybody. I just came in with an open mind and am just happy to be part of the team."
Coincidentally, now that he's a Patriots insider, he's also been moved to inside linebacker. Given the talent of New England's outside 'backers (i.e., Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel), Hobson's arrival via free agency gives Belichick and his staff the luxury of inserting an experienced (yet still young) veteran at a position where an infusion of youth and talent is certainly welcome.
"He had played a lot of outside linebacker the last two years down there," said Belichick during the Pats' recent minicamp. "I think he is a smart guy, runs well, he's got some experience in the system and certainly playing inside. I think he has a good combination of experience, toughness and athleticism to the position."
Hobson's most productive season as a Jet came in 2006, when he logged 100 total tackles (66 solo), six sacks, and an interception.
Given the situation at inside linebacker – with the age of Tedy Bruschi, the uncertainty of Junior Seau's return, and the still-unproven depth on the roster – the 28-year-old Hobson will likely be counted on to vie for a starting job here in New England once training camp begins next month.
Hobson not only understands that he'll be under a microscope this summer (and throughout the fall, for that matter), but also welcomes the attention.
"Definitely. I just welcome the challenge of being out here to compete every day and be a part of this great organization and great team. I'm doing everything I can to be successful."
Evidence of that came in the Patriots' passing and minicamps. In the former, few Pats veterans took part (it was more of a learning session for the new, young players), but Hobson, needing all the extra work he could get, was among them. Last week's minicamp, with the entire team present, was an extension of Hobson's on-the-job training process.
"It was good opportunity to get out there and continue to learn and fit in more with the system, the players, the coaches, and get a better feel for everything," he noted, adding that, after several practices with his new team, he's getting more comfortable at his new position.
"I'm a perfectionist, so I always want things to be perfect. I'm probably harder on myself than most. Other than that, it's going pretty good."
Part of the reason he feels he's progressing so well is that he's leaning on his new teammates (Bruschi, Vrabel, Thomas) for help.
"The linebackers in general are an experienced group, a great group to learn from. I'm going to take as much from them as I can."
And he can do that all he wants, now that he's no longer on the outside looking in.