McCourty: We have to attack on defense

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McCourty: We have to attack on defense

FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty's second NFL season didn't go as planned.

The plan was for him to duplicate his rookie season, in which he had seven interceptions. But that wasn't the case in 2011-12. McCourty finished his sophomore campaign with only two picks. He was even moved from cornerback to the safety position.

Now, he's back at corner, for training camp at least.

"I'm just playing," said McCourty following Monday's practice. "When you play in New England, you've got to be ready for anything. We've had wide receivers on defense, we've had everything. Just going out there and getting better at wherever you're at that day and working on those things, is kind of my key and my goal this season. No matter where coach Bill Belichick decides to play me, I want to be ready to go."

McCourty wouldn't go too in-depth about what he needs to improve on in his third NFL season, but he knows it'll have to be better than his second year, for both him and the rest of the secondary.

"Just get better," he said. "I don't think it's something that I can come out and become a whole new person. I've just got to get better and go out and play well.

"I still feel like it's a progress. I have to keep working and keep getting better. I think myself, and as a whole, we've made some plays that we should make out there. And then, we've corrected some things, and there's still some things that we need to do better. I think for right now, we just have to focus in on those things."

When talking about improvement in the Patriots' secondary, McCourty is focused on giving his defense a certain attitude adjustment.

"We're just trying to be aggressive and be competitive on everything out there," said McCourty. "From the front, all the way throughout the secondary, guys are trying to just develop an attitude. Defense has a lot to do with attitude and how you approach the game. So, we're trying to keep an attitude, and trying to do it day in and day out.

"It's an attitude that we've got to always have as defensive players. We've got to be attackers. There's great offenses in this league. We've got to want to hit people in the mouth, and go out there and play hard."

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."