Bill Belichick: We’re getting solid, productive play out of all our safeties
|11.13.13 at 9:07 pm ET|
While there’s been plenty of attention paid to the work of Devin McCourty — who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season through the first nine games of 2013 — Bill Belichick wants to make sure that the rest of the safeties get their fair share of attention.
On a conference call with the media on Tuesday, Belichick noted that it hasn’t only been McCourty who has stepped his game up. According to the coach, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson have all been “productive” to this point in the season.
“I think overall that we’ve had pretty solid play out of the five guys,” Belichick said. “Tavon and Nate have both missed a little bit of time during the season, but they’ve been good contributors for us in the kicking game and they’ve played a solid role for us there, and continue to, I’d say, work and get reps for us defensively, even though they haven’t had a lot of opportunity there.
“I think they’ve all been productive,” Belichick added. “Harmon has made a few plays on the ball, Devin, I think is having a real good year, Steve has been productive for us. I think that those guys have all worked hard, when they’ve been on the field they’ve all been solid contributors, and we’ve certainly had a lot less problems this year than we had last year, even the last couple of years, with balls getting thrown over our head in the middle of the field and things like that.”
Gregory suffered a thumb injury in the recent win over the Steelers, and was replaced in the lineup by the rookie Harmon. The Rutgers product responded with his second pick of the season.
‘It was fun. Just going into the game in that type of atmosphere with the win on the line — it was a very close game when I went in — it was a great feeling,” Harmon said of his first extended taste of NFL game action. “And then to go out there and be prepared to play those types of minutes made it even better. Not going out there scared or nervous because I didn’t prepare, but going out there with confidence because I prepared like I was the starter.’
With several reports indicating that Gregory could be on the shelf for a few weeks — he was the only player not present at the start of practice on Tuesday — it’s likely more responsibility will fall on Harmon’s shoulders at the strong safety position going forward. He said he’s not changing his approach.
‘It stays the same, because over the last nine games I’ve been preparing like I was a starter,” he said. “That’s something our coaches do a good job in doing, making sure I know all the checks and all the tendencies — doing all those little things so I can have a fresh mind and a confident mind going out there if Steve were to go down and not nervous and scared.
‘At the end of the day this organization, the coaching staff does a great job of preparing everybody like they’re the starter. Coach (Brian) Flores has done a great job with me, telling me, ‘You’re always one play away,’ quizzing me and asking me questions. I think it really paid off last week and I’m just going to continue to do what I’ve been doing and continue to get better and we’ll see where it goes from there.’