|Devin McCourty on Logan Mankins: ‘Don’t know if [you] get that type of teammate ever again’||08.26.14 at 6:23 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For those Patriots who played with Logan Mankins, Tuesday was harder than any offseason or training camp practice they’ve had this season.
After their first practice without the six-time Pro Bowl left guard, they came off the field and had to face the reality that the business side of the NFL and the Patriots had hit home. Mankins’ locker was in tact along with some team equipment but his teammates were left to answer questions about his sudden departure to Tampa Bay.
“He’s the type of guy you don’t know if get that type of teammate ever again,” safety Devin McCourty said. “He’s a tough guy. The different injuries he’s played through, being out there every snap, every chance he could get. When I got here, he wasn’t at here at first because he was home and he missed first couple of games. He came back and you could see the difference up front in how everybody played. He went to the Pro Bowl in a half-year. I think that just spoke volumes about a guy who you just see his leadership stand out as soon as he steps on the field.
“Since I’ve been here, he’s a guy you look up to, and I’m a defensive back and that’s watching the offensive line. Tampa is going to get one helluva player, and guy.”
McCourty the player then spoke like McCourty a team captain.
“There are some things you can’t control. You just accept,” he added. “It’s tough, it’s tough. You just tell yourself, and it starts the older guys on the team, you have to go out there and play. You can’t just sit there and sulk or be disappointed in your mind. You just have to go out there and play and make sure the younger and go about it and play and follow your lead. That’s the way I looked at today.
“This time of year is difficult. When we have 90 guys, whether it’s a guy like Travis Hawkins, in my room every day asking me a bunch of questions, working his tail off. Coach says it every year, this is a tough time for everybody. Coaches don’t like making these decisions. This one felt a little bit more because of the type of player Logan was and how long he’s been here.”
Mankins is gone to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 fourth-round pick. Matthew Slater is another Patriots player who, like Mankins, has served as a captain before. He admitted that once the team was informed by Bill Belichick of the trade before practice Tuesday, it was tough going about business.
“It is difficult,” Slater said. “You know a guy for a number of years, you get to know his family, his kids, and that makes it tough. There is always a human element involved. We signed up to do a job here, and we understand what that job entails, and we understand what comes along with that, but at the same time, you can’t separate yourself from the human element, and the emotions and feelings that come along with it.
|5 most important Patriots not named Tom Brady||at 12:00 am ET|
There’s no need to debate who is the most important member of the Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady has been the single most integral part of New England’s football success on a week-in, week-out basis for the last decade-plus. But who makes up the rest of the nucleus? With the 2014 regular season looming, here are the five most important Patriots not named Brady — in no particular order.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman — Edelman has emerged as Brady’s go-to target of choice over the last year-plus. The former college quarterback topped the 100-catch mark last season, becoming just the third pass-catcher of the Brady era to come away with at least 100 catches in a season (Troy Brown and Wes Welker are the other two.) Over the course of the summer, he displayed an almost creepy level of chemistry with the quarterback. In two preseason games, Edelman has showed that regardless of what happens with Rob Gronkowski‘s health in 2014, he will be one of the fundamental elements of the New England passing game. In two preseason games Brady targeted Edelman 10 times, and the receiver caught all 10 passes.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski — Gronkowski is the difference-maker, the sort of offensive option who can help New England get to its ultimately goal. The only question is his health — the big tight end played in his first 46 straight games in the NFL, but since his forearm snapped blocking on an extra point against the Colts in 2012, he’s only played in nine of a possible 26 games. It’s important to note that the Patriots looked like they learned to survive without him down the stretch and into the postseason last year. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots averaged 32 points per game and 5.94 yards per play with Gronkowski in the lineup from Weeks 7-14. Without Gronkowski (from Week 15 through the end of their postseason run), New England averaged 30.8 points per game and 5.82 yards per play. It was a drop-off, but not the dramatic dip that some may have anticipated. At the same time, the real struggles in other areas (red zone presence, blocking) have created an environment where it’s simply not sustainable to think the Patriots could hope to win a Super Bowl without him.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis — Revis has only been a part of the New England roster for a few months, but he already figures to be a vital part of any success the Patriots have in 2014. Even for a future Hall of Famer it can be an occasionally dicey proposition joining a new team, but he’s managed to fit in seamlessly. As a new face, he has managed to walk a fine line between being deferential to the established veterans who were already on the roster, but at the same time he’s managed to carve out a leadership position of his own. He was the guy who led a group of defensive backs out to Arizona for offseason workouts with his trainer, and the younger defensive backs (including Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon) have confessed to picking his brain on more than one occasion. He hasn’t played a ton in the preseason (we had him at 36 snaps — with penalties — through the first three games of the preseason, and has one pass completed in his direction in that time), but it certainly appears he’s not hampered by any of the knee woes that managed to keep him sidelined for almost the entire duration of the 2012 season.
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|Devin McCourty wins Ron Burton Community Service Award||08.25.14 at 9:36 pm ET|
The three-time defensive captain was the 12th winner of the award, which is named in honor of the late Ron Burton, the first player drafted by the team and a community leader whose widespread charitable work was a model for how a Patriots player can make an impact off the field.
McCourty is entering his fifth NFL season after joining the Patriots in 2010 as a first-round draft pick out of Rutgers. McCourty earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie to become the fourth Patriots player to be selected as a rookie. McCourty has played both cornerback and safety during his time with the Patriots. He earned Associated Press All-Pro Second Team honors at safety in 2013 and Second Team All-Pro honors as a rookie in 2010 when he played cornerback, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott as the only NFL players to earn All-Pro honors at both safety and cornerback.
Patriots owner and CEO Robert Kraft presented McCourty with the award. The defensive back has been one of the team’s most active community participants. In four years as a Patriot, he has regularly participated in the team’s community Tuesday events (the players’ only scheduled off day each week). In addition, McCourty also has teamed with his twin brother, Jason, who plays for Tennessee to start his own foundation to help fight Sickle Cell, a disease that has affected members of his own family.
McCourty joins a select group of Patriots players to receive the award: Past recipients are Joe Andruzzi (2003), Troy Brown (2004), Matt Light (2005), Jarvis Green (2006), Ty Warren (2007), Larry Izzo (2008), Kevin Faulk (2009), Vince Wilfork (2010), Jerod Mayo (2011), Zoltan Mesko (2012) and Matthew Slater (2013).
|Devin McCourty hoping officials let up on throwing flags and let DBs ‘play a little bit’||08.19.14 at 9:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Football fans, Devin McCourty feels your pain.
He tried to watch Monday night’s game between the Browns and Redskins just like a fan. And like a fan, he found it really hard to not change the channel with the number of flags thrown, especially on defensive backs.
“I think as a DB, you’re trained to never to look for a flag,” McCourty said. “It’s makes them throw it more. But even [Monday] night, watching the game, it’s just seems like every couple of plays, there’s another flag. It’ll be tough for people trying to watch the game who have work in the morning and stuff like that.”
All joking aside, McCourty has the unique perspective of having started out as a cornerback before transitioning to safety full-time last season. He knows he won’t be able to get away with as much tugging so technique, even for a safety, will be key this season.
“I think it’s a little different but we have some of the same issues as far as how we’re covering guys, too, like guys coming off the line of scrimmage, things that you might have gotten away with you may not get away with [this season],” McCourty said. “But I think it’s hard to try and change your whole game. We don’t want to start to giving up long passes and touchdowns just to say, ‘I didn’t want illegal contact.’ Hopefully, they reduce the [number of] flags and we get to play a little bit.”
“I don’t it’s that much tougher,” McCourty said of watching and playing with new players rotating at safety. “I think a lot of it is putting your rules and what you do as a defense into what they’re doing so it’s just guys just talking about it and seeing stuff the same way and being on the same page. As long as you can do that, you just put your rules toward that.
|Vince Wilfork on new points of emphasis enforcement: ‘There were a lot of flags [Tuesday] – it’s kind of different’||08.13.14 at 6:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — For the second time this preseason the Patriots got a first-hand look at how the new league points of emphasis will be called when referees were on hand at Tuesday’s joint practice with the Eagles following last Thursday’s first preseason game with the Redskins.
The referees called drills like they were a game — throwing flags for the penalties they saw. The general theme with the players, coaches, as well as officials is there will be an adjustment period.
“There were a lot of flags today — it’s kind of different, but they are making a point of emphasis of certain things and they are throwing the flags so we had a good look at it today and we have to be better on that end,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said.
There were a number of flags thrown at defensive backs for defensive holding and illegal contact during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, which was one of the main points of emphasis for the season. This was clearly evident by the number of these types of penalties called in the first week of the preseason. For players who play in the secondary, they understand it is just part of what the game has evolved into.
“I think it’s just the way the league is,” Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said. “They want to see points scored and if it gets too crazy and they feel like the defense is impeding too much on points being scored then there will be a rule change or point of emphasis on that to try and help the offense score.”
For cornerback Darrelle Revis, he’s just trying to get accustomed to the new rules by the time the regular season hits.
“It’s the beginning. It’s the beginning stages and the only thing we can do is ask questions and learn,” Revis said. “There were a lot of flags out there today, but at the same time, it’s a new rule and we’re just trying to get acclimated and do the best thing we can do by covering receivers in the preseason games and in the regular season.”
|Ex-Patriots defensive back Steve Gregory retires at age 31||08.09.14 at 2:52 pm ET|
Steve Gregory announced his retirement from professional football Saturday.
The 31-year-old, who played eight seasons in the league, spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Patriots. In 26 games in New England, he had 81 tackles and three interceptions. While with the Patriots, the veteran safety enjoyed the respect of his teammates, with several of his fellow defensive backs calling him one of the smartest players they had ever been around.
“In the film room, when we’re in meetings, we’ll have something in the defense and we’re watching and Steve will say, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ We’ll all sit there and look at him and be like, ‘You’re right, that probably would be better.’ I think that’s what makes him so good,” Devin McCourty said of Gregory last January.
“When we’re preparing for games, he’s not only able to watch film and see things coming but he’s able to go to the coaches and say, ‘Why don’t we tweak this defense this way because it better fits what they do?’ I think it’s good, our coaches listen to everyone. Steve always has something each week we play that he sees and things we can do. That’s why we call him a future head coach.”
Below is the full text of Gregory’s statement, via his agent David Canter.
It is with tremendous respect, appreciation, and admiration for the game of football that I’ve decided to announce my retirement effective immediately. After enter the game as an undrafted free agent, I was fortunate enough to play twice as long as the average player. This past offseason, my wife Rosanne and I were blessed to welcome a daughter, Aviana, and spending time with her has changed my life’s perspective. It is my hope to continue in football as a coach and I look forward to what the future holds. I’m tremendously happy with my decision and being able to walk away from this great game both healthy and on my own terms. I would be remiss in announcing my retirement without thanking my great family, coaches, teammates, scouts, trainers, agent and all of the fans that have supported me along the way.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Devin McCourty: ‘It always around this time gets a little bit more testy in camp’||07.30.14 at 3:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Six days into training camp and four days of padded practices hitting the same players over and over again is bound to get repetitive and frustrating for some at times. This is what occurred Wednesday with Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon Browner when the two had a spirited exchange during a 1-on-1 drill.
Following practices Thursday and Friday, the team will get a break from hitting each other when they have a week of practice with the Redskins leading up to the first preseason game next Thursday night in Washington. This is something many of the players are looking forward to.
“Yeah, it is getting to that point,” safety Devin McCourty said. “It always around this time gets a little bit more testy in camp. I think that is what is so nice that we can go out there and practice against other teams and do different things and kind of freshen camp up a little bit.”
Logan Ryan, in his second year in the league after leading the Patriots last year in interceptions with five, doesn’t see this year any more physical — it’s just the competition within training camp.
“I wouldn’t say it’s more physical, it’s just the nature of each practice and the nature of each competition,” said Ryan. “We have great competitors. I think we had some great competitors last year. Right now you can’t ask for better competitors.”
McCourty, a four-year veteran, has a sense of when players are starting to reach the point of relishing the chance to go up against some players not on their own team.
“You see it. It gets a little more testy, guys are chomping at the bit and going at each other a little harder,” he said.
With the addition of Browner in the Patriots secondary there is no question the unit becomes more physical as he comes from Seattle, which has one of the most physical and intimidating secondaries in the NFL. Being more physical can be a good thing for a defense as long as it is channeled the right way.
“We always talk about being physical,” McCourty said. “There are times where we like it and the coaching staff tells us that’s a good job being physical and then there are times where they tell us we need to be more physical in different spots on the field. I think that’s always a work in progress, but I think overall this defense is a physical defense.”
With new head coach Jay Gruden adding some fire to the Redskins organization, it will likely be a spirited few practices next week, something the Patriots to look forward to having.
“Yeah, most definitely,” Browner said. “It gets frustrating going against the same guys every day. I’m ready to get down to Washington and see what I can do against those guys.”
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