|Friday free-for-all: Captain Devin McCourty and Nate Solder is confident||09.07.12 at 11:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Leadership is something that’s not taken for granted with the Patriots, nor is it bestowed lightly.
So when Devin McCourty was honored on Thursday as one of six team captains, he was humbled that his teammates felt he had what it takes in his third NFL season to lead the Patriots defense on the field.
“It’s an honor,” McCourty said Friday. “Whenever you can get voted by a bunch of your peers and your teammates as someone they feel is a leader. I think it’s an honor and I’m just going to try and do my duties and be a leader for these guys.”
McCourty joins Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo as captains on defense while Tom Brady and Logan Mankins are offensive captains and Matthew Slater rounds out the captains for the 2012 Patriots on special teams.
“Just trying to do whatever I think the team needs,” McCourty said. “I think we have some great leaders on this team so I think we’re just trying to feed off each other.”
McCourty has advice for the younger players, including the rookies, who will be making their NFL debut this Sunday.
“When you get out there on the field, the speed picks up a little more,” McCourty said. “I think the rookies will see it’s not as friendly. In the preseason, a lot of times you’re going against a lot of guys you went to school with, guys that are free agents get on teams. Once you start talking about each game matters, you get in the regular season and guys are really focused on just trying to win. I think the pace and the attitude changes a little bit.
“I’ve just been telling the guys to just remember that at the end of the day, it’s football. You’ve been playing football your whole life. It’s a bigger stage but it’s the next stage for you. Just be prepared and try to stay settled.”
Meanwhile, no one has faced more criticism in the preseason than left tackle Nate Solder. He knows he’s under the microscope, filling the shoes of the retiring Matt Light. He believes, in spite of the criticism and the rough games, he’s grown in a positive way this preseason and is ready for the live bullets on Sunday in Nashville.
“For me, I think I learned a lot,” Solder said Friday, just 48 hours before the opener. “I certainly improved on some things and I have more to improve on definitely. My technique has come around a little bit. Understanding the schemes better, understanding the system better. It’s all kind of helped.
“We certainly have to all be working together, kind of see thing through the same eyes and play together. That’s a huge part of what we do. Certainly, I’m excited to play and ready to go.”