FOXBORO, Mass. — The best cornerback in the NFL was at Gillette Stadium on Monday night, and it wasn’t New York's Darrelle Revis.
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork unloaded an island's worth of praise on teammate Devin McCourty, who recorded his sixth interception during New England's 45-3 victory against the Jets.
"McCourty, as a rookie, he's probably playing the best in the league at his position, hands down," Wilfork said. "I'll put him up against any corner that you throw at me. He is a hell of a football player. He's going to get better and better, and he works his tail off. He's been making some great plays for us."
Naturally, Wilfork is going to stick up for his guys, but at this point, it's tough to argue against that point. McCourty is tied for second in the NFL with his half-dozen picks, and they've all come in the Patriots' last seven games. And since Week 7, there isn’t a player in the league with as many interceptions as McCourty, who has also picked off a pass in three consecutive games.
McCourty's value on the New England defense has been tremendous. He is emerging into a shutdown corner, and he's only 12 games into his NFL career. While the Patriots' defense has come into its own this season, they have had few players who have been as consistently reliable as McCourty.
The rookie was flattered to hear about Wilfork's praise, and in impressive fashion, McCourty repeated something that Wilfork said. As McCourty walked out of the locker room for the final time Monday night, he was already looking forward to getting back to the facility Wednesday, so he could work harder to get even better.
"That feels good," McCourty said of Wilfork's praise. "Vince is a guy who has been in this league, and he's been around some good players, so that’s a big compliment coming from him. But with that compliment, that means I've got to keep working hard to make him right, so that’s what I'll do."