|Patrick Chung is really happy to be back: ‘I love it… It’s home’||07.27.14 at 9:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — No one is happier to be camping with the Patriots this summer than Patrick Chung.
The 26-year-old safety was allowed to walk after the 2012 season, his fourth in New England, and took a three-year, $10 million deal with Philadelphia in March 2013.
But after a disappointing first year, a season in which he suffered several injuries, lost his job to rookie Earl Wolff and never connected with new coach Chip Kelly, he was released in March. There were those who wondered who would want a safety who seemed on the outs, or at least out of chances in the NFL.
Enter the Patriots. Bill Belichick, who made the decision to let Steve Gregory walk, knew something about Chung that in his mind earned him another chance. Belichick offered Chung a one-year, $1.1 million deal based on his work ethic alone. Chung has been quietly making a good impression all over agin, working mainly with the second and third teams during the first four practices, with an occasional rep with the first unit and old friend Devin McCourty.
“I love it,” Chung told WEEI.com after Sunday’s rain-shortened practice. “Love it here. Culture is good here. Fans are good here. Coaches are good here. Locker room is good here. Food is good here. I like it here, man. It’s home.”
To McCourty, it’s just good to have a football brother next to him again on the field.
“It’s good because Pat is a true pro,” McCourty told WEEI.com. “He’s a guy that comes in every day ready to work. He understands the defense. I think he’s another model citizen for the younger guys, someone they can look at and model their game, model what he does to get ready for practice and get ready to know what he’s doing. It’s been great. He’s a friend mine who was here the whole time I was here. He experienced something different for a year and now he’s back.”
What specifically does Chung bring back to the Patriots and the secondary?
“Just his work ethic, whether it’s in the weight room and being one of the stronger guys or getting ready for practice, doing different things,” McCourty added. “A younger guy can come see him get in the hot tub, or I’ll do this before practice, just to make sure I’m ready. Not just stretch before practice and go. As you get in this league, you have different aches and pains you that you need to take care of on your own.”
While McCourty has passed Chung on the safety depth chart since his departure in 2012, Chung says not much else has changed since his first four-year tour in Foxboro.
“Absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing,” Chung said. “Just work hard, stay out of trouble and take it day-by-day. Bill knows what he’s doing so pay attention.”
|Patriots defense looks to find fix for third-down woes of last few years||07.23.14 at 12:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the past few seasons there has been one consistent issue with the Patriots defense — getting off the field on third down.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, dating back to the 2010 season there hasn’t been one year in which the Patriots finished higher than 20th in the league in third-down defense. Last year the unit got off the field 42.7 percent of the time, 25th in the league, so on a little more than half of the third-down plays, opponents were successful. 2010 was the worst season of all, as New England allowed opponents a success rate of 47.1 percent, dead last among all 32 defenses in the league.
This is one of the areas in which the defense as a whole knows it needs to get better as preparation for the 2014 season begins with training camp opening on Thursday.
“We have to get off the field, that’s huge,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. “Some of the third-and-long situations we weren’t able to get off the field. I know third-and-long screens hurt us, too. Specifically that play and third and long as a whole, we need to do a better job. Obviously everything is working together, so coverage-rush, rush-coverage, everything works together. That’s just one area we definitely need to work on this year.”
A good amount of the conversions have come on screen plays, some even going for long yardage. Stopping the play comes from not just one specific group of players, but the entire defense.
“It’s just different things you can work on,” defensive back Devin McCourty said of how to stop the screen. “I think one of the greatest things here is we have coaches that find any and everything we can do to get better. I think one of the big things is getting to the ball. It’s a play you try and get the linemen up field and guys drop into coverage, so just effort and everything on that simple basis can help improve the screen game.”
|Duron Harmon listening, learning in anticipation of possible full-time move to safety||06.17.14 at 5:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It was hard not to notice the conversation.
At one point in Tuesday’s minicamp session, with the rest of the defense off on other parts of the practice field, four defensive backs stood together with a member of the New England coaching staff. There were cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, along with safety Devin McCourty. Once Browner is done with his four-game ban for PEDs, this is the trio that will likely serve as the foundation for the Patriots secondary in 2014.
The fourth part of the quartet? Second-year defensive back Duron Harmon.
So what’s your move when you’re a part of a conversation like that, Duron?
“Really, just me listening,” he said a little sheepishly when asked about the scene following Tuesday’s practice.
“You have guys that are All-Pros — what can I really say?” he added. “I’m in my second year, and these guys have played a lot of football and a lot of great football at a high level. It’s really a great chance for me to just sit back and soak up a lot of that wisdom from those three guys.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick cautioned people not to read too much into personnel groupings and on-field action throughout the OTAs and minicamp, but by the looks of things on Tuesday, it certainly appears Harmon has the inside track on the safety spot opposite McCourty, The Rutgers product, who played both corner and safety last season, had two picks and four passes defensed in 15 games in 2013, and certainly showed enough to be considered part of the rotation in the secondary for 2014.
But a series of events — starting with the offseason release of veteran safety Steve Gregory and continuing with the addition of Revis and Browner — have led to Harmon moving from backup defensive back to injecting himself into the mix at strong safety.
While the 6-foot, 198-pounder isn’t a classic hitter in the typical strong safety mold, he’s already put in plenty of work studying some of the best safeties in the game in hopes of getting up to speed as fast as possible. He said Tuesday he spent the bulk of the offseason watching film on safeties like Seattle’s Earl Thomas, Indy’s Antoine Bethea, Tampa Bay’s Dashon Goldson and Cleveland’s Donte Whitner, as well as McCourty.
“One of the things that I did was just pinpoint a few safeties I thought were very, very good in the game, and I watched them,” he said. “I tried to watch different techniques that they utilized. I tried to watch how they play, how they play physically, how they play at the line of scrimmage. How they play in the deep part of the field. And just seeing what type of football players they are and try and utilize that and put some of it in my game.
FOXBORO — The Patriots just wrapped up the first day of their mandatory minicamp session on a warm day behind Gillette Stadium. The session, which ran for roughly two hours, was held in sweats, T-shirts and helmets. Here are a few quick notes:
– Keeping in mind that the players were again in numberless jerseys, the following players were not spotted at the start of the session: wide receiver Aaron Dobson, cornerback Malcolm Butler, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, linebacker Darius Fleming, defensive lineman Dominique Easley and defensive lineman Armond Armstead. In addition, a rehab group that included special teamer Matthew Slater, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and D.J. Williams and quarterback Ryan Mallett all disappeared into the practice bubble shortly after the start of practice.
– With Mallett sidelined, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo again got lots of work, and while he wasn’t great, he certainly appeared to be sharper than he was in the final OTA session last week. (The last OTA that the media had access to.) He had maybe his nicest pass of the day when he connected on a deep sideline route with Wilson van Hooser toward the end of practice. Garoppolo drew a large media crowd at the end of practice.
– Earlier in the day, Patriots coach Bill Belichick cautioned against reading too much into what’s going on throughout the OTAs and minicamp, but it appears that the safety job opposite Devin McCourty is Duron Harmon‘s to lose. A couple times throughout the day, while the rest of the team was working through special teams or offensive drills, a collection of defensive backs could be seen working together on their own on one corner of the field. It was a group that included McCourty, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner — the presumed starters in the secondary — as well as Harmon. We’ll have more from Harmon later in the day, as he drew a sizable group of reporters once practice ended. (Tommy Kelly and Chandler Jones also talked.)
– The specialists appeared to have a pretty good day, with Ryan Allen really booming a series of punts throughout the day. Not like this has been a huge topic of conversation, but it’s worth mentioning that Allen and kicker Stephen Gostkowski don’t have any competition at this point on the roster. And based on how Allen looked today, not sure there’s any reason to have an extra punter in camp to serve as competition.
– Both Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell each had to run a lap after a botched snap, while Jeremy Gallon dropped a punt.
– Danny Amendola (7-on-7s) and Jeremy Johnson (11-on-11s) each had a pair of nice catches that stuck out.
– The Belichick Playlist at camp today was heavy on U2 and The Who, with Coldplay and Bon Jovi thrown in for good measure. And owner Robert Kraft was on the field for a sizable portion of practice, taking in the action.
|Report: Patriots start talking new deal for Devin McCourty||06.07.14 at 6:18 pm ET|
Since he came to New England, Devin McCourty has become a leader in the Patriots locker room. Now, the Patriots apparently want him to stick around for the long term.
According to Albert Breer of NFL Media, and later confirmed by Nick Underhill of MassLive.com, the Patriots are looking to pen a new deal for the 26-year-old first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Rutgers.
McCourty, who would be a free agent after this upcoming season, is scheduled to make $3.9 million this season at the end of his five-year, $10 million rookie contract. The real motivation to get a new deal done lies in the financials. The Patriots are likely looking to save money on the cap by renegotiating the 2014 salary and bonus as part of a new deal. McCourty’s cap hit this season is $5.115 million.
McCourty has proven to be one of the most versatile players on the roster, playing both cornerback and safety during his career, and has been named to the Associated Press All-Pro team at both positions (cornerback in 2010, safety in 2013). With the Patriots bringing in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in the offseason, McCourty is now settled as a fixture as safety in the team’s secondary.
Underhill quotes a source as saying there’s “nothing substantial” to come from the “preliminary discussions” between McCourty and the Patriots.
McCourty recorded 69 tackles in 15 games in 2013, on his way to the highest grade of all qualifying safeties from Pro Football Focus. Last season was also McCourty’s first as a full-time safety (15 games) since the Patriots moved him there sparingly in 2012. In four seasons and 63 games, McCourty has recorded 15 interceptions.
|Devin McCourty on Darrelle Revis: ‘He’s a good teammate’||05.29.14 at 8:54 pm ET|
The Patriots have been going through OTAs this week — the third phase of the offseason program. And to this point, the veteran safety has been impressed by the play of Revis, who was acquired in March.
“He’s a good teammate. He works hard and it’s exciting for him to be here,” McCourty said Thursday during a break in the action at the team’s Mom’s Football Safety Clinic.
“I think it’s exciting for him to be here. I think he’s focused on getting better as a player, just like the rest of us. I’m excited for the season this year and for the secondary to start bonding and coming a unit. I think right now, we’re just a bunch of names, and this time — and then in training camp — is when we start to become a unit.”
Revis is one of a few new defensive backs on the roster to this point, a group that includes veteran Brandon Browner and rookie Jemea Thomas. McCourty said that the spring sessions have been “great” when it comes to building a bond with each other.
“I think this time period is great — the coaches can throw as much as they want from us, and [it's] a learning time,” McCourty said. “I think they’re getting a chance to learn and having to learn on the go. Things are moving fast. I think they’re doing a great job. Along with them is the rookies — they come in and have their little rookie minicamp and now they’re here with us. More is being thrown at them. It’s exciting just seeing everyone out there learning and being back on the field running around.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Takeaways from our Thursday afternoon talk with Devin McCourty||04.24.14 at 9:43 pm ET|
1. There’s no update on a new deal.
McCourty is going into the final season of a contract he signed as a rookie in 2010, but isn’t sweating his future.
“I don’t even worry about it,” he said when asked about his contract situation after 2014. “I just focus on playing football and let everything else (get) handled by my agents and the team and all that.”
2. It means something to him that he’s associated with Rutgers.
While everyone in the New England locker room displays some level of pride in their school, McCourty has been a tremendous advocate for Rutgers over the last few years. He’s maintained a high profile on campus, coming back frequently for Pro Days and workouts. (He lamented that he didn’t make it back for Pro Day this spring.) He said Thursday that it’s important for him to keep his ties to his alma mater.
“For me, it’s key, because I think that university played a huge part in my life,” he said of Rutgers. “Some of my best friends, I met there. One of the good things is that every time we go back we get to reconnect and have some fun. I just love the program. Just seeing them, now moving to the Big 10, I got to check out one of the spring practices. It’s an exciting time for them. I know they’re ready to go. I just love being a part of it. Just anything I can do to help, I’m always there to help out.”
McCourty was asked about the current group of pre-draft prospects from Rutgers, including wide receiver Brandon Coleman.
“He’s probably the most interesting (one),” McCourty said of Coleman. “The thing I loved about him is his work ethic. I remember one summer, I went back there and we were just doing 1-on-1s and 7-on-7s with those guys and he was going each time. If one of the NFL guys got up there, he would go just to get the work. I’m happy for him, getting a chance to live out his dream.
“Really, all those guys,” he added. “They work hard there. I know whether it’s here or somewhere else, those guys will land somewhere and they’ll work their butt off trying to keep a job.”
3. The only thing constant in the NFL is change.
With the addition of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and loss of Aqib Talib and Steve Gregory, the secondary has undergone the most personnel changeover to this point in the offseason. McCourty talked about the changes:
On Gregory: “Steve is a smart football player. A guy who is always in the right spot. A guy who is a playmaker. He was big for us the last two years when he was here. He made plays. He’d kind of that older figure who has a lot of knowledge and had a lot of football games under his belt and has been able to just push us the right way. It just stinks a little bit — but that’s the business of football. Since I’ve been here, we’ve always had guys coming in and guys going, so, nothing new. Just wish him the best and hope he lands with another team.”
On Talib: “The same thing. A very good football player who has played very big for us in the last two years. But the business is the business. You just wish him the best in Denver — not that good, of course. But hope he does well. We’re happy for him.”
2014 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2014 NFL DRAFT
Latest from Bleacher Report
- How Big of an Impact Will Easley Make for Pats?
- Patriots' Top Offseason Moves
- Assessing Every Patriots UDFA's Chances of Making the Roster
- Projecting Patriots' Roster Battles This Offseason
- Ranking Pats' Remaining Offseason Priorities
- Early Projections for Patriots' Final 53-Man Roster
- In-Depth Look at Each Pats Draft Pick