It's not all that often Bill Belichick raves about one of his current players, but he did that very thing Wednesday morning when asked about Devin McCourty's work in the secondary.
The 25-year old was drafted out of Rutgers as a cornerback. Though he started seeing snaps at safety in 2011, this season, his fourth, marks the first year he's entered offseason workouts and training camp at the position.
Belichick praised McCourty's cooperation and flexibility at length before New England's second joint practice with the Eagles.
"He’s one of our best-prepared players, both physically and mentally," the coach said. "He has a very good understanding of the overall defense and has gotten more experience at the safety position. He's also worked some at corner. He’s a great team player. He's been a captain since his second year in the league, so wherever we need him, I know he’s prepared to play and do the best he can for the team.
"That's one of the things we all love about Devin: He's a great team player. He's a good player, does a lot of different things – in the kicking game, defense, safety, corner, nickel, whatever it happens to be. He's very dependable, he's very consistent, and he works hard, puts the team first. There’s not much to not like about him; it's pretty much all good."
McCourty has a new dance partner in the secondary this season.
Veteran Adrian Wilson joined the team after he signed a three-year deal with the Patriots in March. That his NFL resume spans a decade is invaluable. The question is how Wilson's skills and experience, built on playing in Arizona for his entire career, will translate to a brand new system. Perhaps he'll have to lean on McCourty while he gets acclimated.
Not as much as you might think, said Belichick.
"He's got good instincts. At times, there are different calls or situations that come up that Steve [Gregory] or Devin will talk to him about, but most everything he’s doing, he’s done before. It was just called differently or maybe structured a little bit differently.
"Adrian is a pretty experienced player and he’s got a little bit different playing style than some of the other guys we have at that position. But he's doing well. I think it’s coming together for him and for the entire group."