Devin McCourty’s Transition to Safety Has Helped Him at Cornerback

FOXBORO, Mass. — Devin McCourty's transition to safety has actually given him a better feel for his natural role as a cornerback.

McCourty, an All-Pro cornerback as a rookie in 2010, was up and down during his second season. That preluded a slight transition to safety in Week 17 against the Bills. The vast majority of McCourty's snaps at safety have been in nickel packages, and he has still had his share of reps at corner.

The Rutgers product has gotten a different view of the field from his vantage point at safety, and he has also been in charge of making more calls before the snap, which comes with the territory of the position. But most of all, when he returns to cornerback, McCourty has a better understanding for how the safeties think when they see certain offensive sets and routes.

That can be important because it can help him in his zone drops or his leverage in man coverage because he knows how the safeties are supposed to play those routes.

"A little bit, kind of just walking in their shoes and seeing how they feel on different coverages, different things we do," McCourty said. "Just seeing it from a safety standpoint, just gives me a better vantage point when I go back out at corner. I kind of know where those guys will be and what they're thinking when my guy runs maybe some kind of route and whatever route No. 2 runs, so I think the biggest thing I've learned is they're looking at a combination and I'm looking at one guy usually."

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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