McCourty knows he'll have to be self-sufficient


McCourty knows he'll have to be self-sufficient

By TomE. Curran

FOXBORO -- With all the labor grappling going on, it's easy to lose focus on the fact that - at some point - a new CBA will get done and football will rev back up again.

The teams that are best able to replicate offseason training they would do at the facility while on their own will be the ones who get a jump on 2011.

Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty, speaking to media Wednesday night at The Hall at Patriot Place, talked about the uncertainty players are facing.

In a way, you worry about coming into a year a little different especially me, the way I went into my rookie year," McCourty said after being the featured speaker at the Patriots Hall of Fame speaker series. "One thing Im kind of confident in is that I believe in what we do here. Whatever happens, I feel like when we do get back here and were able to get back in our normal routine, well be ready to go."

McCourty noted also that being able to work out with his brother, Titans corner Jason McCourty, gives him an advantage in having someone to work out with.

"Between me and my brother, we push each other hard," Devin McCourty said. "Thats what he did last offseason, he worked out with me, I worked out with him, and I think having someone else to be able to go out there and attack and get better with, Im confident Ill be able to get better next year."

McCourty will have a new coach back in the secondary in 2011. Matt Patricia, formerly the team's linebackers coach, will be working with the safeties now that Corwin Brown has left the staff.

It will be cool," said McCourty (the corners will still be coached by Josh Boyer). "Matty P is crazy. With the linebackers last year, we were already close to them because the secondary and the linebackers, they have to be on the same page a lot of the time. So having Matty P back there will be cool. The only thing Im disappointed is that he cut all his hair and his beard off. That was kind of his mojo.

After such a brilliant rookie season (seven interceptions, Pro Bowl, second team All Pro), McCourty seems to understand offenses may avoid him in the future.

"At this position, your production is not always labeled by how many picks you have or how many tackles you have," he explained. "Its what you can do to shut down on that side of the ball. Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders) is barely thrown at. He cant get interceptions if the ball is not going his way. I think, for me, its watching film and seeing how I develop and what Im able to do in Year 2 that I couldnt do in Year 1, that will determine how I got better with that transition.

One thing he'd like to change in 2011. The ending.

"Watching the Super Bowl, not being in it, is no fun. You just do what you have to do work hard, because you know another season is coming and you know that feeling. Like everybody else, youll be working hard to avoid that feeling again.

Tom E. Curran canbe reached at Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Felger: Sorry, Tom, but Jimmy G. and Brissett need to play Friday

Felger: Sorry, Tom, but Jimmy G. and Brissett need to play Friday

If there's any Patriots quarterback who should be getting meaningful time other than Jimmy Garoppolo on Friday in Carolina, it's not Tom Brady. It's Jacoby Brissett.

Brissett, obviously, will be the Patriots backup the first four games of the year, and the team has yet to go through the annual preseason exercise of subjecting him to the situation under which he's most likely to see time during the regular season. Typically, Bill Belichick will yank the starting QB out of the first half of an exhibition game unannounced and tell the backup to throw on his helmet and get out there. Brissett has yet to go through it, and you have to figure it's coming in the next two weeks.

Other than that, Garoppolo should see all the time while the starters are on the field. He's had little success going against the opposition's starters so far this month and needs every rep he can get. He needs to go through the routine of starting a prime-time game on the road, which will be the case Sept. 11 in Arizona.

Where does that leave Tom Brady? Stewing, probably. It's clear he wants to play. It's clear he wasn't happy missing last Thursday against Chicago and is pining for work Friday. If you were wondering how Brady would feel about losing time in training camp to Garoppolo as the Pats got ready for the regular season, you probably have your answer. He's not a fan.

There is a case to be made that the team and Belichick, in particular, owes Brady some love. Deflategate was dropped in Brady's lap from the start, and while the coach skated, the quarterback's sentence has finally become a reality. The Pats should want to make Brady happy. He deserves the respect.

But, ultimately, we ask the fallback Patriots question: What's best for the team? The answer isn't even close. Garoppolo deserves every snap, save for that potential emergency exercise with Brissett.

As for Brady's feelings? He'll get over it.

Email Felger at Listen to Felger and Mazz week days, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. Watch the simulcast daily on CSN.

Belichick impressed by rookie Thuney's work at left guard


Belichick impressed by rookie Thuney's work at left guard

FOXBORO -- Joe Thuney may not have won the starting left guard job officially, but Bill Belichick says he's on the right track. And for a rookie, that's feat in and of itself.

The third-round pick out of North Carolina State -- you may remember it as the Kevin-Faulk-in-the-No.-12-jersey selection -- has been the first-team left guard since the start of training camp, and he hasn't moved since. Thuney has occasionally taken snaps at center, and the Patriots have him learning multiple spots behind the scenes. But every time Nate Solder has run on to the field as the left tackle, Thuney has been there by his side at guard. 

Even going back to OTAs, held not long after he was drafted, Thuney was the top choice at that position. 

"Joe has done a good job with what we’ve given him," Belichick said. "There was a point where we felt comfortable making that, I’d say temporary move, It wasn’t permanent. But he has handled it well. I think he’s certainly moving towards being able to lock something down at some point. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I think he is certainly gaining on it. He has had a good preseason, had a good spring."

What once may have been deemed a temporary move back in the spring -- perhaps due to players like Shaq Mason, Tre' Jackson and Josh Kline dealing with injuries early in the offseason -- now seems like it should be a permanent one.

Thuney's run as the No. 1 left guard has been uninterrupted because his performance hasn't warranted a change. He's held his own against former first-round defensive tackle Malcom Brown in one-on-one practice drills, and he's been the highest-graded player on the Patriots offensive line through two preseason games, per Pro Football Focus. (The only players with higher grades on the team through two games are tight end AJ Derby and defensive end Trey Flowers.)

The man who went viral before the draft for his ability to solve a Rubik's cube in just over a minute has flashed an understanding of how quickly things move on the inside. Plus, playing under unretired offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Thuney has been quick himself, both picking up pressures and working to the second level in the running game with aplomb.

Thuney will still have a preseason game or two to solidify his grasp on a starting role, but even for the brief period during which Mason and Kline were simultaneously healthy, Thuney was the choice on the left side of the interior offensive line. Now that Mason is dealing with what's been reported as a hand injury, Jackson remains on PUP, and Jonathan Cooper is still out after suffering a foot injury early in camp, the job seems like Thuney's to lose.

That Belichick even hinted Thuney is "gaining on it" is an indication of just how impressive he's been during his short time as a pro.