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Camp tutorials could pay off this weekend for Devin McCourty

10.28.10 at 2:25 pm ET
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Patriots Camp Football

Devin McCourty matched up with Randy Moss frequently throughout training camp. (AP)

FOXBORO — Throughout the sweltering days of August, Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty underwent an education. Call it summer school.

The teacher? Randy Moss.

On more than one occasion this summer, Moss humbled McCourty, catching pass after pass from Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. But on Thursday, McCourty credited those lessons he learned from Moss in camp as being a big reason he’s been able to play as much as he has as a rookie.

“I learned a lot from Randy — I’m not going to share it,” McCourty said with smile. “But just getting a chance to go against a future Hall of Famer every day in practice I think was a reason I was prepared to start the season off being on the field. Just working against him every day is probably the biggest challenge I’ve ever had as a corner. That helped a great deal.

“Just sometimes after a play he’d give little tips to all the corners, something that as a wide receiver he might not like or other receivers might not like,” he added. “Things that can help you out when you’re out there playing corner.”

As a result of those summertime tutorials, the 5-foot-10, 193-pound rookie has started six games — four at right corner and two games at left corner, and is fourth on the team in tackles with 29. He’s developed a reputation as a physical presence unafraid to mix it up with opposing receivers, and will likely spend a lot of time opposite Moss on Sunday.

“I’m excited to go out there and get another chance to just play each week and get better,” McCourty said of the chance to meet Moss. “It’ll be fun.”

It’s all part of the continuing education of a rookie cornerback, who has gone up against Cincinnati’s Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco in the opener, as well as San Diego’s Patrick Crayton and Buffalo’s Lee Evans. Throughout the process, he’s managed to develop an effective off-field routine process, one that combines film study, time in the playbook and a reliance on the veteran members of the New England secondary.

“I wouldn’t say my own technique, but I’m trying to learn from other guys, like Leigh [Bodden] helped me out one week telling me some things he looked at,” he said. “There were some other guys on the team I’m also learning from.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has already praised McCourty’s football IQ, lauding his film study and other aspects having to do with his off-field approach.

“Devin has been real consistent all year,” Belichick said. “He works hard, studies hard, shows up every day to work in practice, tries to work on a lot of little things to get better and he is getting better. He has been really a consistent guy for us both Monday to Saturday and in the games on Sunday.

“He’s not perfect, but competes well, tackles well, plays pretty good coverage techniques and is gaining experience and learning more about the receivers and quarterbacks, play-calling and things like that he goes up against every week. He just keeps getting better.”

While McCourty’s professional resume is short, he’s coming off arguably the finest performance of his career, with three tackles and an interception against the Chargers. (According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just one catch on six targets.) Is McCourty looking forward to building on that Sunday at the expense of his former teacher?

“No, [Sunday is] about going out there as a team,” McCourty said. “We’re focused on trying to get a win on Sunday. It’s not really a personal challenge or anything like that. I’m not coming into the game worrying about me versus Randy Moss. I’m just going out trying to compete and do my job for the team.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, Randy Moss, Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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