Trainer: McCourty 'completely healthy' heading into camp

561240.jpg

Trainer: McCourty 'completely healthy' heading into camp

Good Energy Training owner Pete Ohnegian can say this about client Devin McCourty:

"He really has no limitations at all for his shoulder."

The AC joint separation, suffered in 2011's Week 10 win over the Jets, forced the second-year Patriots cornerback to miss two games and more practices.

There was some question last season as to whether McCourty's sophomore season struggles were exacerbated by the injury. Though McCourty resembled a shell of his rookie, Pro Bowl self before that November night, it was fair to think a bungled shoulder might have bothered his attempts to climb out of the slump.

McCourty maintains one had nothing to do with the other. Still, his trainer isn't taking any chances.

"We don't do rehab here -- that's why I say 'pre-hab' -- but everything is posture-conscious," Ohnegian said. "So even if it's speed work, we're looking at the chest, we're looking at the arm action, we're looking at the shoulder-back and the head neutral. I want to make sure when he leaves here, he's more than ready to go."

McCourty has been working out with Ohnegian since he was a junior at New Jersey's Saint Joseph Regional High School.

This offseason McCourty is at GE multiple times a week. Though he also works out at his alma mater Rutgers, he keeps Ohnegian "on call."

Really.

McCourty recently took flight to the Dominican Republic for a few days with his brother, and Titans defensive back, Jason. Neither disconnected from the NFL completely. Ohnegian called the pair's hotel to find out what workout equipment was available and created specific plans.

Trust -- that McCourty can train in a way that complements New England's lofty expectations -- is key to the long-term relationship.

With training camp due to start in two weeks, the cornerback works now on strength, mobility and flexibility. He practices coming in and out of cuts. During cone drills, he makes sure he's exploding properly off his plant leg, that his foot is under his shoulder, and his all-around mechanics are good.

Ohnegian mentions McCourty is "naturally gifted" that way.

So what about 2011? What about the drop from seven interceptions to two, and all the surrendered yardage? Can the trainer offer any theory as to why McCourty struggled?

"I think it just happens."

No, it's not entirely that simple. And Ohnegian knows it.

He said he didn't dissect the film -- and certainly wouldn't any more than McCourty and the Patriots did. He can't pinpoint where the problems came from.

But Ohnegian states the more important takeaway is he believes the same issues shouldn't surface again.

"If anyone can handle it, it would be Devin. He and his brother haven't changed since high school -- they're just straight-up, first-class young men, completely humble. I wouldn't be surprised if he duplicates his rookie year."

It's hard not to mix hope in with analysis.

Yet Ohnegian has known McCourty for six years. He understands the athlete's body (both in potential and reality), the mind, and competitive spirit. Surely, Ohnegian's evaluation is worth some weight.

Some 193 pounds or so.

"I think other guys you can attribute it to not working as hard, or getting complacent, or being focused on other things, but none of that is true in his case. That's why I feel like he's going to have a great year."

Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

patriots_tom_brady_huddle_112716.jpg

Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

Five-time Super Bowl champions. Seven-time AFC champs. Fourteen-time AFC East champs. Now, Bill Belichick's Patriots have another title.

NFL's most "badass" team.

The Tampa Bay Times polled a panel of 43 NFL writers and asked them for the top three most "badass" teams and players in the NFL.

MORE PATRIOTS

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots came out on top with 29 top-three votes. 

Here's a sampling of the panelists' comments:

"They keep winning in a league designed to discourage dynasties." -Terez A. Paylor, Kansas City Star

"Hands down. They take a three-touchdown lead and keep throwing, and throwing, and don't give a damn what anybody thinks." -Tyler Dunne, Bleacher Report

"For a decade they've been toying with and laughing at the rest of the league. The biggest bullies on the block." — Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

"Behind the glitz and glamour of having the game's greatest quarterback, the Patriots ranked among the league's top 10 scoring defenses each of the past five seasons, including No. 1 in 2016." — Ryan Wood, Green Bay Press-Gazette

The most badass player? Veteran Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The highest-ranked Patriot on the list? Tom Brady at No. 6. Rob Gronkowski was tied with Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 8. Julian Edelman was among the others receiving votes. 

Here are the full rankings: 

MOST BADASS TEAM 

1. Patriots (29 votes)

2. Seahawks (27)

3. Steelers (18)

4. Raiders (9)

5. Ravens (8)

6t. Broncos (6)

6t. Cowboys (6)

8. Bengals (4)

9t. Cardinals (2)

9t. Packers (2)

9t. Panthers (2)

9t. Texans (2)

Also receiving votes: Chiefs, Falcons, Rams, Titans (1 each)

MOST BADASS PLAYER

1. James Harrison, Steelers LB (14 votes)

2t. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB (10)

2t. J.J. Watt, Texans DE (10)

4t. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks S (8)

4t. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins DT (8)

6. Tom Brady, Patriots QB (7)

7. Von Miller, Broncos LB (6)

8t. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (5)

8t. Khalil Mack, Raiders LB (5)

10. Aaron Donald, Rams DT (4)