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Devin McCourty continues playing confidence game at cornerback

12.20.11 at 5:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Devin McCourty is mad, and the target of his ire is in a mirror.

The second-year cornerback out of Rutgers, who finished last season with seven picks (tying a Patriots’€™ rookie record) and a Pro Bowl berth, has yet to come away with one interception this year.

‘€œI’€™m mad at myself,’€ McCourty said after a Tuesday afternoon walkthrough. ‘€œI think each defensive back in this league comes into the season, that’€™s what they want to do. They want to get interceptions. There were some missed opportunities. Sometimes, the ball doesn’€™t bounce your way. When you put that together, you get pretty made at yourself.’€

McCourty’€™s statement was made with a touch of mock anger, but there is an element of truth to what he said. Coming off a rookie year that had some expecting he would emerge as one of the premiere corners in the league in 2011, he’€™s struggled for much of the season. He’€™s recently seen an uptick in his play, coming away with a solid second half two weeks ago against the Redskins, and on Tuesday, he talked about an increase in his confidence level.

‘€œConfidence is just something where you go out there and play and keep working hard and trying to make plays,’€ he said. ‘€œThat’€™s what I’€™m trying to do.’€

McCourty has been battling a shoulder problem the last few weeks — his right arm was dangling at his side in the waning moments of the win over Washington — but isn’€™t interested in making an excuse because of the injury.

‘€œI think I feel like everybody else right now,’€ he said. ‘€œThere are some injuries here, some there, but nobody out here is 100 percent after preseason, training camp and all these regular season games. Overall, I feel pretty good.

Throughout the year, he’€™s been able to get some support from his teammates, as well as his brother Jason McCourty, a defensive back with the Titans.

‘€œWe talk no matter what — tough times, good times. It’€™s the same thing,’€ he said. ‘€œIt’€™s not even always about football. We’€™re brothers before we’re NFL players. … Sometimes, you have a brother, it’€™s like that. Sometimes, we’€™ll get on each other, sometimes, we’€™ll help each other out.’€

It’€™s been a rough season for the Patriots’€™ secondary, as the New England pass defense has been consistently ranked at or near the bottom of the league in almost every major category. One of the things that the Patriots defensive backs have had to deal with is a distinct lack of continuity, as there have been several personnel changes in the secondary.

‘€œI guess you could say it’€™s a challenge, but I think it’€™s something we work with,’€ McCourty said. ‘€œGuys come in and practice and you practice with them, and we go out and play. It’€™s not something that we can use as an excuse and use say this the reason for this or that, but we put in extra time and effort here to get our communication right to focus on those things and be ready to go when the game starts.’€

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