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."

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Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

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Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

PHOENIX - The Arizona Cardinals, in an anticipated move, have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The non-exclusive tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

It's unlikely that any team would express interest in Jones, however, given what it would cost.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

The Cardinals' move came two days before the NFL deadline for making franchise designations.

It also came on Jones' 27th birthday, prompting teammate David Johnson to tweet "Happy BDay to `The Man,' `Mr. Franchise' himself.....The one and only."

The franchise tag move came as no surprise.

Club President Michael Bidwill has stated all along that Jones would not be going anywhere, that the team didn't make the trade - sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to New England - to keep him just for one season.

"We're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said in a recent interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him, and his people know that."

Jones immediately upgraded what had been an average Cardinals pass rush at best. His fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden had 12 1-2 sacks and seven tackles for loss. Together they form one of the better outside pass rush combinations in the NFL.

By all accounts, the contract talks with Jones have been cordial and Jones has said he wants to stay in Arizona.

"I love it here," he said near the end of last season. "I love the vibe that the people give off and I can see myself being here for a long time."

Chandler heads a long list of free agents that the Cardinals must either re-sign or let go. That group includes starters defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.