FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty is just one of those players whose every week will be scrutinized until he establishes consistency or falls off into oblivion.
Having a tremendous rookie year and following it up with a sophomore slump will do that to a guy.
The McCourty evaluations in Year Three so far sit on both ends of the spectrum. Some say he's played well, others say he's been awful.
McCourty rides neither too high nor too low on the ever-changing analysis. For example, after netting just two interceptions in 14 games last year, he pulled down that many just last weekend against Buffalo.
"As a defensive back it always feels good to come down with interceptions," he said Wednesday. "That's what we work hard for and that's really the biggest reward of playing defensive back. That's big. And defensively, turnovers always help."
Is he still on Cloud Nine? Not really. McCourty prefers to build himself up on the next week's work.
"It's probably sometimes a little overrated," McCourty said of reveling in one good Sunday. "Because a lot of things that we go into the game with are determined in practice. When we have a good week in practice, when we have a good week studying film, you go into those games confident.
"Just because you have a great game one week, it doesn't mean that you're going to go into that next game feeling like no one can attack you. There's different offenses, you see different guys each week. So that week in practice always determines a lot."
He can't worry about whether or not those two picks will be the only he brings down all season. McCourty can't even think about trying to triple the total by January.
Easy does it.
"We work hard in practice to go out there and try to perform well on Sunday. I think my confidence for this week will start today with going out and having a good practice and just keep building it throughout the week."
FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable.
Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws.
Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful.
The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.
“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”
Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”
Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not.
I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”