Devin McCourty won’t be cornered into making safe decision on where he wants to play
|07.25.13 at 1:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Let the guessing game begin. Will it be corner or safety for Devin McCourty in 2013? Asked about the possibility of moving to safety full time on Thursday morning, McCourty was coy.
“You know positions always change, and coach Belichick does a great job, whether it’s game-planning for certain teams and having a bunch of things we can do. So my availability is to wherever he puts me,” said McCourty, who played both last season before moving to safety on a regular basis when the Patriots acquired cornerback Aqib Talib midway through the season.
“I think that’s what great about this time of year — I can get better as a football player, whether that’s playing safety or corner. Any position I can just learn as much of the defense as I can. That’s what I’m doing right now — just trying to learn the defense. It doesn’t matter where I’m at, as long as I know it.”
McCourty had a fantastic rookie season in 2010 but struggled in 2011 before regaining his footing and having a good 2012. The Rutgers product, who will turn 26 next month, was graded as New England’s best pass defender in coverage last season, finishing at +16.6, as well as 13 passes defensed and five interceptions.
He’ll head into 2013 with a secondary that saw an impressive statistical improvement down the stretch last year. Much of that was due to the domino effect that occurred after the acquisition of Talib, but it’s tough to deny the fact that the defensive backs seemed to build a sense of continuity and consistency in the second half of the season. They’ll look to keep that momentum going forward into the new year.
“I just think coming back with the right attitude right now,” McCourty said when asked about the key to the start of camp. “Learning as much as possible from our coaches in the meetings and then applying it to the field. I think if we can start and get off to a good start, that can only lead to improvement and hopefully, we’ll pick up where we left off and keep that going. I think it’ll all start with learning as much as possible right now and having that good attitude when we get on the field and do things the right way and start it off now so we’re not chasing anything.”
While fellow defensive back Alfonzo Dennard faces an uncertain future because of a recent arrest — McCourty said Thursday he has talked to his teammate and he’s “happy” Dennard is back to football — the offseason pickup of safety Adrian Wilson has already had a big impact on the relatively young group of New England defensive backs.
“Oh, man — a huge impact,” McCourty said of the 33-year-old Wilson. “You’re talking about a guy who won a lot of games. He’s been awarded a bunch of different things throughout his career. I think what he’s done speaks for itself, and to have his kind of leadership and then, most importantly his play on the field, we’ll benefit from that tremendously. I can’t wait to actually put on the pads and be out there with him on the field.”
On Thursday, McCourty addressed the potential distractions that the team could face in the wake of the charges against former teammate Aaron Hernandez, saying that it’s up to the captains to help the team and keep the focus on the task at hand. Getting a chance to get back to the practice field will go a long way in that regard.
“This time of year, you always look forward to getting back out here,” he said. “It’s the start of a new season, and I think every player knows all year your goals and the different aspirations you have for the season. It starts now. We understand the work we have to put in right now if we want to win games throughout the season and be where we want to be at the end of the season.”