|Rutgers-to-Foxboro pipeline produces two more picks in Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon||04.27.13 at 12:42 am ET|
FOXBORO — With Devin McCourty serving as perhaps the finest example of drafting and developing a defensive back the Patriots have had over the last decade, it makes a lot of sense for New England to go back to Rutgers again.
But on Friday, the Patriots doubled up on their Scarlet Knights, picking up a pair of defensive backs out of Rutgers in the third round. New England went with cornerback Logan Ryan at No. 83, and followed that up with defensive back Duron Harmon at No. 91 overall.
“That was a very good defensive unit that they had (at Rutgers) last year, over the past few years actually, but especially last year. Of course, Logan [Ryan] had a very productive year outside and Duron [Harmon] inside,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of the pairing. “I know that whole group, but especially those guys, are close. They communicated well, played well. Both were very productive, both defensively and in the kicking game, solid guys.”
Both Ryan and Harmon pointed to their relationship with McCourty — taken in the first round of the 2010 draft by New England — as key in their development, and welcome the opportunity to play alongside him again at the professional level.
“The relationship that Devin and I have goes beyond words,” Ryan said. “He’s a guy that helped me make the transition coming from being a talented high school player to becoming a college corner, and now for him to be there for this next step – I’ve grown up over the years – I’m not that 18-year-old boy anymore. To have the opportunity to compete alongside him in practice every day and the work ethic that he brings and the great leader that he is – I’m just honored to be able to play alongside him and [be in] the Patriots organization.”
Harmon said he heard from McCourty earlier in the day — in fact, when a 508 area code popped up on his cell, he assumed it was someone calling from the Patriots, but instead, it was McCourty giving him a ring to check in. He also heard from another former Rutgers teammate now with the Patriots in Justin Francis.
“It was kind of exciting talking to [Devin] — he said he’s very eager to get me up there. He’s very eager to teach me what he knows, help me with the defense, basically just eager to play with me again,” Harmon said. “I [also] talked to Justin Francis not too long ago. He just told me he is excited for me and he told me that it’s a place where they work. There’s no time for games — it’s a place where they work.”
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|Patriots draft Rutgers defensive backs Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon in third round||04.26.13 at 9:55 pm ET|
The Patriots drafted a pair of Rutgers defensive backs in the third round Friday night, using the 83rd overall pick on cornerback Logan Ryan and taking safety Duron Harmon 91st overall.
Both players were college teammates of current Patriots safety Devin McCourty. Ryan had 93 tackles and four intercepts as a senior. He stands at just a shade above 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds and is a very good tackler.
The selection of Ryan falls in line with the Patriots’ interest in players who excel in the three-cone drill at the Combine. Ryan finished seventh among all players with a 6.69-second performance.
Harmon is considered to be a big reach, as he was the 26th-ranked safety by ESPN’s Scouts Inc. and was projected to go undrafted.
For more on the Patriots, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Defensive back Devin McCourty pledges to help victims of Marathon bombings||04.17.13 at 4:29 pm ET|
Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty joined teammates Danny Amendola and Vince Wilfork in pledging to help support those affected by the Marathon bombings that took place earlier this week. McCourty tweeted out the following Wednesday afternoon.
Like Amendola I will donate $100 for each tackle made & 200 for every int made in 2013-14 season to the victims of the Boston bombing(D-Mac)
— Jason+Devin McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) April 17, 2013
|Resetting the depth chart in Patriots secondary||03.17.13 at 1:24 pm ET|
There have been some notable moves so far this offseason for the New England secondary. With free agency continuing and the draft now just over a month away, the Patriots can still add to the defensive back spot. But right now — with the addition of veteran safety Adrian Wilson, the re-signing of cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington and the departure of Patrick Chung — here’s a quick look at how the depth chart for the Patriots’ secondary shakes out at this point:
Talib: The 27-year-old, who will return for his first full season with the Patriots, projects as the No. 1 corner for New England in 2013.
Alfonzo Dennard: The Nebraska product, who played very well as a rookie last season in New England, faces something of a murky future, but if he’s available, he should go into the 2013 season as a starting corner.
Ras-I Dowling: The injury-plagued Dowling enters his third season in New England with a lot to prove. When he’s been healthy, he’s been an important part of the secondary — the problem is he hasn’t been healthy all that often. He’s played just nine games in two years.
Slot cornerbacks/special teamers
Arrington: After the acquisition of Talib, Arrington moved back inside to the slot — his more natural position — and flourished. Should start 2013 as the leader in the clubhouse for this spot once again.
Malcolm Williams: Primarily a special teamer, Williams provides depth at the defensive back position.
Devin McCourty: The lead dog in the secondary. He admitted late last season the transition from young guy to leader took some time, but he goes into 2013 as the No. 1 free safety on the team.
Steve Gregory: Gregory started slow and had issues staying on the field early in the season, but he and McCourty played well together at the end of the season.
Adrian Wilson: A bigger safety who can contribute down in the box, one of the early position battles worth watching could be between Wilson and Gregory. While Gregory and McCourty played well together, Wilson (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) is more of a big, strong safety when it comes to overall body type than Gregory (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) and could swipe some snaps from Gregory as a result, depending on the defensive game plans.
Tavon Wilson: Wilson started strong as a rookie — four interceptions in his first 10 games — but the acquisition of Aqib Talib affected his playing time maybe more than anyone else — the trade for Talib meant the Patriots moved Devin McCourty from corner to safety, and left Wilson on the sidelines. He projects as a backup right now.
Nate Ebner: Ebner did see some significant snaps on defense at the start of the season, but made his niche as a special teamer. Currently figures as someone who can provide depth at the strong safety spot, not unlike Matthew Slater.
|Devin McCourty: As a safety, my mentality has changed||01.17.13 at 2:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s been a transitional year for Devin McCourty.
He played some safety in college, as well as last season, but with the midseason addition of cornerback Aqib Talib, the Rutgers product is now putting “safety” on his W-2 instead of just “cornerback,” as it appears he’s made the full-time switch — for now — to the back end of the defense. He said Thursday morning it’s meant an occasional change to his preparation.
“I’ll always watch film and prepare,” he said. “I think my mentality has changed a little bit as far as trying to be the head communication guy back there with [fellow safety] Steve [Gregory]. So not just being able to watch and see how the play affects me or how I’m going to play something, but just to be able to watch things and see if I can get any type of keys or pre-snap reads that I can let everybody else on the defense know.”
McCourty has learned about the need to be more vocal in his approach.
“Vocally, I’ve really thought about speaking more; as soon as I see something, trying to yell it out to the defense. So I think the biggest thing I’ve changed is my mentality and how I approach it,” he said.
“Playing a little safety in college, you had to do it, but what I’ve got here is totally different, communicating in the NFL and letting guys know what’s around them. I’ve just kind of been learning on the job and each week has gotten better and I’ve gotten more conformable. So I’m just trying to take it one day at a time.”
As Talib said on Wednesday, the biggest thing for the Patriots defensive backs to keep in mind this week — particularly the safeties — is the arm strength of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco, who has been one of the best in the league when it comes to completing passes of 20 yards or more, was able to connect on several deep throws last Sunday in a divisional playoff win over the Broncos.
“I think you have to be aware of it,” McCourty said of Flacco’s arm strength and big play ability. “You have to know, just like any other team we play, that week you scout them, you watch film and you understand what they do well and you have to know those things. You can’t just go out on the field and play everybody the same. I think it will be key just watching film and understanding what Flacco does really well.
“I think he does a good job of handling their team and making the right decisions,” McCourty added. “I think playing quarterback puts a lot on you. I think he does a good job of not turning the ball over. When you see a guy make the plays he made last week, with I think a little over a minute left it was 70, 80 yards — to make that play down the field is big. I think he’s clutch and he makes plays for them.”
When it comes to the Ravens’ receiving corps, McCourty offered his thoughts on Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin.
“[Smith is] a fast guy; he moves. That’s not to say he’s not physical at all, but I think one of his biggest strengths is his speed, and if you give him a step or two, it will turn into three or four. You just have to be aware of how fast he is,” McCourty said. “[Boldin is] a very physical guy. I mean, you can tell, I think, by his size and his strength. He really uses that to his advantage of how physical he can be out there in routes and in blocking.”
|Devin McCourty explains why he feels so comfortable at safety||01.10.13 at 7:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s arguably the most important move of the season for the Patriots.
Trading for cornerback Aqib Talib and moving Devin McCourty from corner to safety.
Since that deal at the trade deadline in early November, the Patriots defense – particularly the secondary – has looked like a new group, a group playing with a great deal of confidence.
On Thursday, McCourty shed some light on what the transition from corner to safety was like for him and whether the move came naturally.
“Not at first,” McCourty said. “Like any time you change positions, you have to get reps and get used to it. But last year, moving a little bit of safety on pass downs, I think the biggest thing was just adjusting to playing it every down of the game. Once I got more and more reps in practice and then actually being out there in the game, I felt like I started to get a good feel for it. I was able to make a couple plays. Now I feel that I’ve gained a good amount of confidence in playing either position. Now it’s just going out there and playing.”
Starting with the Jets game at home on Oct. 21, McCourty was the starting safety out of necessity when Steve Gregory was out with a hip injury and Patrick Chung was sidelined with a shoulder injury. But then Talib was acquired, allowing McCourty to stay at safety. McCourty played eight straight games at safety before moving back to cornerback for the final two games of the season with the knee injury to Alfonzo Dennard.
Against Houston, he had a key first-quarter interception that changed the tone of the game early on. He read Matt Schaub’s eyes over the middle and picked him off at the goal line as the Texans were threatening to tie the game, 7-7.
“Just catching the ball,” McCourty recalled. “The biggest thing is just trying to read the quarterback and go from there. It sounds simple, but at different times against quarterbacks in this league, sometimes they do a good job of looking you off and doing different things like that. Just trying to read the quarterback. Bill [Belichick] is big on telling on us, ‘Just do your job’. I felt like that was a play where they threw the ball down the middle, I’m supposed to be in the middle of the field and just made a field.”
He had another interception the next week against the 49ers as the Patriots wiped out a 28-point second-half deficit. McCourty finished 2012 with a team-leading five picks.
What’s been the key? McCourty says understanding the mentality of a safety and quarterbacking the secondary.
Adding to that confidence were
“I mean that’s one thing,” he said. “But I think you also put the communication level and the importance is way greater at safety. At corner where you’re only one side of the field, you’re not asked to communicate as much to the rest of the defense as you are at safety.
“With [Jerod] Mayo making so many calls, he has to really worry about handling the linebackers and the front four. I think once you talk about the secondary, the safeties have to worry about handling everything with the coverage aspect. When you’re at safety, you have to really make sure everyone gets the calls and everyone is listening. Whenever I’m back at that position, I put a lot of that on myself. Along with Steve [Gregory] and Pat [Chung] being back there, just making sure everyone gets what we’re doing.
Here is the remainder of Thursday’s presser with Devin McCourty: Read the rest of this entry »
|Randy Moss: I still have a lot of love for Patriots, but I’m with Niners now||12.12.12 at 9:17 pm ET|
Randy Moss said Wednesday he’s still got fond memories of his time with the Patriots, but now, he’s a member of the 49ers.
The former New England wide receiver, who called Foxboro home from 2007 until the early stages of the 2010 season, said that he didn’t want to compare the two organizations “because whatever I say is going to be the wrong thing to say,” but said that the Patriots still hold a place in his heart.
“Basically, I’ll leave it at that I still got love and respect for the New England Patriots and everything we did as a team. But now, I’m a 49er, so hopefully, like I said, we go up there Sunday night and give it a good game,” said Moss, who caught 259 passes for 3,904 yards and 50 touchdowns in 52 regular-season games with the Patriots.
“Hopefully, we can complement our defense, [but there’s] no telling what’s going to happen,” he added. “But like I said, we have to play complementary football, and I think if we do that and try and not let Tom [Brady] and the [New England] offense run the score up on us, I think it’ll be a good game.”
Through 13 games, the 35-year-old Moss has 21 catches (on 37 targets) for 326 yards and two touchdowns for San Francisco. His best all-around outing of the year came in the season opener against the Packers, when he had four catches (on four targets) for 47 yards and a touchdown. Despite the dip in his numbers, the Niners praised Moss on Wednesday, with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh saying he’s been a “great teammate.”
“He’s a good teammate,” said linebacker Aldon Smith. “He’s a guy I looked up to as a kid growing up, and being able to be in the locker room and sit next to him is cool. It’s a dream come true.”
“He’s done a nice job,” said Harbaugh. “He’s been a contributor, he’s produced, and he’s been a great teammate.”
He’s also getting a lot of respect in New England. Safety Devin McCourty spent training camp and the initial stages of the 2010 season as a teammate of Moss, and recalled Wednesday how the veteran receiver helped him grow up on a daily basis as a young defensive back.
“He’s still a very, very good receiver,” said McCourty. “I learned a lot just going against him when he was here. You see him out there, and he’s still able to make plays. I think one of the special things about him is that he’s still able to get vertical and run by guys. I guess one good thing is that we have some familiarity with him, and that can help us a little bit. But he’s still a very good receiver.”
“He does a great job of reading defenses,” said Wes Welker. “He knows when he’s about to get the ball and he knows when to kick into high gear and get open and make plays. He really understands defenses, how they’re trying to play them and how to attack them.”
“I think Randy looks like Randy. He’s the greatest deep ball receiver I think that’s ever played,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel over the deep part of the field like Randy Moss. I still see him doing that. Because of his ability to do that, it certainly opens up a lot of other things as well because you have to respect the ability to stretch the field and go deep and get behind you.”
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