McCourty: Keep believing, keep working

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McCourty: Keep believing, keep working

INDIANAPOLIS -- Millions of eyes are on the Patriots this week.

There will be a lot of talk about the pressure of performing on the biggest stage, under the hottest lights in American sports. More than a week after the conference championship games, people are rehashing who failed (Kyle Williams, Billy Cundiff) and who succeeded (Jacquian Williams, Sterling Moore) in the season's most crucial moments.

There's even more to see here in Indianapolis.

Every player on New England's roster is also being scrutinized as a man. Some fans don't care about what the Patriots do or believe when not wearing a uniform. Others do. While the week shouldn't be walked like a tightrope for fear of screwing up, it can be looked at as a platform for doing something good. For sending a positive message to those who hang on every word.

Devin McCourty knew exactly what he wanted to say on Monday.

"Just believing and working hard," he said. "I remember growing up, watching the Super Bowl every year and looking at those guys like they were superheroes. Now, to actually be a part of it, I'd just say keep working hard and believing in anything you want to do. That's what my mom preached at me growing up. No matter what you want to do, don't let anyone tell you you can't."

Maybe it sounds a little like an after school special. It's supposed to. Besides, McCourty was sincere.

For as tremendous a rookie year as he had -- 82 combined tackles, 17 passes defensed, seven interceptions, a Pro Bowl berth -- the totality of his sophomore slump has also been impressive. Almost every week McCourty had to stand and be accountable for missed tackles, blown coverage, and all the surrendered yardage. He was asked why he suddenly has such trouble finding the ball in the air. He was prodded about why, even when he was right there, he couldn't make plays on the ball. A late-season shoulder separation heaped on more doubt: Was McCourty damaged goods?

Through it all he's never broken down. Just as his mother taught, McCourty kept working and believing. That's why, as he talks about the Super Bowl, he can use the platform honestly.

It is all more than he ever imagined.

"I think any football player growing up, I don't know if you dream about this situation exactly right here, but you dream about being in the NFL. And you watch the Super Bowl and see those guys and think about how fortunate they are and how cool it would be to actually be playing in one.

"I don't know if you can actually visualize being there because to you, the Super Bowl is so far away, it's so unreal. To be a part of it is a blessing."

McCourty doesn't mind the expectant eyes. As a football player, he can manage the pressure. As a man, he's grateful to have the chance.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.

05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.

10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati. 

16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.  

Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

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Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

This actually won’t be the first time that Danny Amendola had to wait to follow up a strong season-opener with the Pats. 

As the veteran receiver aims to return Sunday from a concussion and knee injury after leaving the Pats’ Week 1 loss early and missing Week 2 altogether, he’ll try to build a Week 1 performance that saw him lead the Pats with 100 yards on six receptions. 

The stop and start is somewhat reminiscent of Amendola’s first year with New England in 2013, when he had 10 receptions for 104 yards in the season-opener. He suffered a groin injury in that game, however, and didn’t play again until Week 5. At least the wait is shorter this time around. 

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“I mean, there’s going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s football, right?” Amendola said Friday. “But I feel really good today, feel strong, so get ready tomorrow and just continue to prepare.”

In that first game back in 2013, Amendola again led the Pats in receiving yards, but it was in a terrible offensive showing for New England. All it took was four receptions for 55 yards to be the Patriots’ best receiver in a 13-6 loss to Cincinnati in which Tom Brady had a rare scoreless game. 

If Amendola can pick up where he left off in Week 1, the Pats will be in good shape. They’re also expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan ready to go, but Amendola was Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the Chiefs game, even though Brandin Cooks made a bigger impact with two pass interference penalties drawn in the red zone. 

Not known for his durability towards the end of his time in St. Louis, this will be the fourth of Amendola’s five regular seasons in New England in which he didn’t play in all 16 games. He played the full season in 2014, 14 games in 2015 and 12 games in 2013 and 2016. 

With Julian Edelman out, Brady could certainly use Amendola’s services as often as possible. That’s especially if he plays the way he did in Week 1. 

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