McCourty shrugs off injury, pressure to bounce back

McCourty shrugs off injury, pressure to bounce back
June 14, 2012, 8:14 pm
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FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty is on the hot seat in 2012.
The cornerback's sophomore year was almost as bad as his rookie year was good. From Pro Bowler to near-bust: a late-season move to free safety in 2011 signaled him a liability.
It's because he set the bar so high to start that his fall was impossible to comprehend.
Even when McCourty did stay with his man, if the footwork was good, he just couldn't make a play on the ball. Only one player surrendered more yardage last season (Green Bay'sTramon Williams) than McCourty's 1,004. Opponents caught 62 balls of the 101 they were targeted for against him. And the average quarterback rating against McCourty? 106.2.
But he kept his head up through it all.
A first-year captain, McCourty remained accountable after every game no matter what the damage.
Negativity only would have made things worse.
"It's football; you've got to keep playing," he said Thursday. "Once you doubt yourself, you might as well just ask not to be on the field.
"Same approach I had last year and coming into my rookie year is the same now: I'm just trying to improve each day here. So far, that's worked for me, just improving and learning form other guys. I think that's what I'll stick to and just keep working on."
It's fair to wonder if the shoulder separation McCourty suffered in New England's Week 5 tilt against the Jets dogged him for the rest of the season.
But when offered the excuse, he waved it off.
McCourty said he knew immediately upon colliding with teammate Sterling Moore that something was very, very wrong. Still, he insists the worst of the pain was felt on the walk back to the locker room -- that, after that moment, it just kept getting better.
"It hurt to move probably the first week," he admitted. "But after that it was just kind of strengthening it and going through the whole process of building it back up. I think the biggest thing that's helped me is the time and steady working at it.
"It was tough, but I thought I was fortunate that it wasn't something really serious that could have ended the season or something like that. I try to see the positive in every situation."
What about those post-game moments when he looked pained just reaching into his locker?
"That's just the way it looked," he said tightly. "It felt alright."
McCourty can dismiss the injury if he wants -- the analysts will only be harder on him. Not that he cares. The cornerback shrugged at the pressure being put on him in print.
"I see it as, everybody has a job. Our job is to play football; your guys' job is to watch and judge on what you see, and make opinions, and talk on what's out there. I just think about it that way: everyone has their own job to do. "
The Patriots only care McCourty does his.