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McCourty continues to make the grade

10.16.10 at 12:04 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick may have been mightily impressed with Devin McCourty when the two went over his film during a pre-draft interview last spring. But to McCourty, the rookie Patriots cornerback, it felt much bigger than any college exam he ever took at Rutgers.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking, not sure what he was looking at and how he was evaluating and just going through that whole process. You’re just hoping that he’s watching the film and liking what he sees,” McCourty said. “Just answering questions, it was just a privilege sitting there with him watching film.

“I had some mistakes on there and then he would ask me, ‘What did you do wrong,’ and ask me certain questions so I remember calling my agent and he asked me how it went. I wasn’t sure.”

In other words, McCourty felt like anyone else who ever went into an exam prepared, took the test but really didn’t have a clue how well he did.

“All the meetings and all the draft process felt like an exam.”

Then he was taken by the Patriots in the first round in April, 27th overall. It’s safe to say he passed Belichick’s first exam with flying colors.

Earlier this week, Belichick put McCourty in the same class as Ray Lewis when it came to the ability to break down film prior to turning pro. Belichick said that the rookie out of Rutgers has a special knack for not only understanding his responsibilities but how his position fits in with the rest of his teammates on the field.

“McCourty was one for sure,” Belichick said of the list of players who have impressed him during film sessions before a draft. “Guys start telling you what the nose is supposed to do on a particular stunt when he’€™s playing corner and stuff like that. Usually you don’€™t get that.

“I’€™d say Devin was a guy, sitting down with him’€¦and I know a little bit about that scheme from [Rutgers] coach [Greg] Schiano and what they do and so forth, so you kind of [say], ‘€˜What’€™s this guy doing? What’€™s that guy doing?’€™ and kind of keep going and say, ‘€˜Well, alright, so he understands what the linebackers are doing. He understands a couple adjustments. OK, now what about this?’€™”

McCourty redshirted his first season at Rutgers in 2005, giving him an extra year of experience and film study that helped him make the grade as a prospective pro.

“Just in college, being in college for five years, felt like I had a lot of time and sat through a lot of meetings so just kind of paying attention to what coaches were saying to everybody, after a while it just came naturally,” McCourty explained. “It lets you know where everything is on the field and when you know that, it enables you to go make plays and understand where you have help and where you don’t have help.

“I just think you’re more aware of a lot of different things. I know certain things I’ve heard from Coach Belichick and the rest of coaches have given me a better understanding of what’s going on on the field. I just think I know a little more.”

But don’t think for a second that just because he was singled out for his impressive film study that his teammates won’t remind him that he is still an NFL rookie. Brandon Meriweather, as McCourty was given the rare opportunity to speak as a rookie on Friday, got on his case for the media spilling over into his locker.

“Whenever I kind of feel like that, these guys remind me I’m still a rookie,” McCourty said. “Brandon is picking on me, certain things like that.”

And the test continues on Sunday when he goes up against the likes of Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh of the Ravens, two wily vets who will try to school McCourty all afternoon.

“They have guys that have been doing it for years,” McCourty said. “They have a great understanding of the game. [Otherwise] they wouldn’t have been doing it for so long.”

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, Greg Schiano
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