Devin McCourty and the Patriots are bracing for a super-charged Philip Rivers
|09.15.11 at 4:22 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Devin McCourty figures it won’t be easy on Sunday.
He knows Philip Rivers and the Chargers no doubt will remember the last time he saw McCourty and the Patriots.
It was Oct. 24, 2010 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It was the site of McCourty’s first career interception, a pick of a Rivers pass in the second quarter of New England’s 23-20 win.
That day the Chargers were without a full-strength Antonio Gates, as their all-world tight end was nursing a bad case of turf toe. Still, he caught four balls for 50 yards and touchdown. Vincent Jackson was unavailable because of a contract hold-out. And Malcom Floyd was out with a hamstring injury.
But still the Chargers – behind Rivers – were able to mount a furious comeback from a 20-3 Patriots’ advantage. The Chargers had a chance to tie from 45 yards and appeared to do so but Kris Brown‘s field goal was negated by a false start.
Instead, Brown’s 50-yarder bounced off the right upright and the Patriots escaped.
‘You’ve got to just compete,’ McCourty. ‘This week, with Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd both being the receivers, they’re guys that can get vertical down the field as well. So we’ve got our hands full again.
McCourty acknowledged that teams won’t stop trying to pick on him and Patriots defensive backs just because he has a full year under his belt.
‘Last year I came in and I was a rookie, and I was asked the same question as a rookie, ‘Do you think they’ll challenge you deep?’ And I said, ‘Yea’ and they did,’ said McCourty. ‘This year, with the guys we have up front, I mean, of course, still, I’m only in my second year, and we got Ras-I [Dowling] out there with Kyle [Arrington] and me. Teams are going to take their chances.
‘They have good receivers. They believe in their receivers. So they’re always going to take those chances down the field.
As a matter of fact, McCourty sounded like a player who listens a lot to what Bill Belichick says about the past: It doesn’t matter.
‘I don’t believe in those kind of things,’ McCourty said. ‘I don’t think offenses or players look at what you’ve done before and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to leave that guy alone today.’ As a corner, I expect each week to go out there and be challenged, because this week we’re going out there, and we’ve got Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson, with Philip Rivers. I don’t think they’re going to look at me and say, ‘We’re not throwing over there.’”
And now Gates, Jackson and Floyd are all full strength. This will be a super-charged offense that the Patriots will go up against Sunday in the home opener at Gillette. All three are big and physical, and McCourty is prepared.
‘That’s what you kind of expect,” McCourty said. “In the NFL, you have more receivers that are bigger guys and still can run very well and run good routes. So each week, you’ve got to be ready to go against top guys.’