Belichick: McCourty a total team-first player

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Belichick: McCourty a total team-first player

The Patriots secondary came into focus again after Sunday's win over Jacksonville.

It was impossible not to notice all the personnel shuffling that went on in the backend of the defense because it began at kickoff.
With Alfonzo Dennard inactive, cornerback-turned-safety Devin McCourty returned to left corner. Aqib Talib, active but battling a hip injury, played just eight snaps. Marquice Cole got significant time in the slot. Patrick Chung was back at starting safety.
For all the mixing and matching, coach Bill Belichick noted Monday how important McCourty's ability to be moved around is. The player went back to corner after playing every defensive snap at safety for eight-straight games.
"Devin gives us a lot of flexibility; he's such a versatile guy. He's an excellent tackler, which makes him a candidate to play inside at safety. Of course, you know about his speed and toughness, good ball skills, and the fact that he can go outside and play competitively in this game, where we needed him, or come inside when we needed him in there at safety and give some stability back there. He's so unselfish. Hes well prepared. He's got a good set of skills for either position really, corner or safety.
"He's a total team-first player and I think thats reflected in the fact that his teammates selected him as a captain in his second year on the team. Thats pretty unusual," Belichick said. "That's the way he is; he's very unselfish and does what he needs to do or where he's needed and he does it well. Hes come through for us defensively and in the kicking game in a variety of roles."
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia agreed.
"Obviously as a leader and a captain of our defense of our team, Devin understands that and just wants to do whatever he can to help us win. And certainly for him to be able to do that and continue to kind of be a multi-faceted player for us is very beneficial for us and a credit to his work and his preparation every week."

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.