FOXBORO -- As far as Devin McCourty's position in the secondary goes on game days, there are two things we know:
1. McCourty says he'll play wherever the coaches ask him to.
2. The coaches say they'll play him wherever it is deemed best for the team on a week-to-week basis.
Good to have that all figured out.
But for however uncertain his status may be -- especially considering safety Steve Gregory's possible return this weekend and last week's trade for cornerback Aqib Talib -- there are a few things to take from the situation.
For starters, the secondary has settled down some. McCourty has now played two games at safety this season. He remarked after last week's win over the Rams that he already feels more comfortable on the back end.
It seems he's embracing the move.
"It's cool. It's different. You get used to seeing more of the field," McCourty said of the new vantage. "I think you have more of a responsibility, since you have that viewpoint, to let everyone else know. Because I know when you're playing corner it's not as easy to see the different things that you see on film when you're just on that side of the field. So I try to just communicate and let guys know if I see anything from film study that might happen so they're aware of it."
Communication is key. Unfortunately, consistency in personnel -- something the Patriots haven't had in the secondary -- is key to communication.
Earlier in the week, head coach Bill Belichick acknowledged how roster upheaval can create problems.
"I think the more consistent we can be as a unit then that builds their communication and better teamwork between the players that are involved.There are always going to be some moving parts, there are moving parts every week because of the team that we play and unfortunately weve had, like every team does, guys go in and out for various reasons, so its not perfect."
During games, much of that effort now falls on McCourty's shoulders. Belichick said Wednesday he appreciates his player's style.
"He's not a guy that has a lot of excess communication; he's concise, he's to the point: 'Here's the call, here's what it is.' It's good. Devin's more like, 'Here's what we need to do. Just get to the point and do it.' He does a good job at it."
As for the player himself, McCourty believes his positional flip-flopping actually provides an advantage.
"I have a good knowledge of, especially for our corners, what they're doing. I think a little bit of that helps when I can say things and communicate with them, to let them know that I'm going to call. My experience at corner helps me out with that aspect, and then just going out there and playing and listening to the guys that've been playing safety when they're trying to help me out."
Guys like Gregory.
Though he's been sidelined with a hip injury since Week 4, the veteran safety has been a valuable resource in the film room and in meetings for the entire defensive backfield.
McCourty's appreciation for Gregory was returned in kind this week.
"Dev's a great athlete," he said. "He understands football; he's a smart football player. He understands what we're trying to do as a defense and he has the ability to play any position in the secondary, so he's done a great job."
So despite all the moving parts, all the instability, maybe there are fundamental aspects of McCourty's move that will make the whole thing work.
Gregory put it simply enough.
"Dev's a selfless guy. He's a team player. He just wants us to win, and whatever they ask him to do, just like the rest of us, he'll do."