McCourty: Playing against Kaepernick 'going to be tough on us'

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McCourty: Playing against Kaepernick 'going to be tough on us'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are preparing for Colin Kaepernick to play quarterback on Sunday night as well they should. And what they see from him is similar to what his own San Francisco 49ers team sees in him -- not just youth, but a whole lot of skill that trumps the inexperience.
"He's another young quarterback that we're playing, that we're going to have to just try to make things tough on him, do different things," said Patriots safety Devin McCourty on Wednesday. "But he's really grasped onto the offense fast. He hasn't played in many games, but he's been very productive.
"He's not making many mistakes at all. He's not throwing into coverage where guys are just dropping balls. I think because of his arm strength, he's able to throw into some tight windows and get the throw in there and get the right read. So it's going to be tough for us."
Linebacker Rob Ninkovich even admitted that it won't be easy preparing for the versatile quarterback this week.
"He's definitely a hard quarterback to prepare for, just because of his ability to run and to throw," said Ninkovich on Wednesday.
"When you have an athletic quarterback, no matter who he is, obviously they can beat you with their legs and they can run and get out of the pocket and extend plays," added Ninkovich. "So, that's the tough part about playing a guy that can get out of the pocket and hurt you with running."

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

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Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.