Devin McCourty Leaning on Patrick Chung, Steve Gregory in Embracing Transition to Safety


Devin McCourty Leaning on Patrick Chung, Steve Gregory in Embracing Transition to SafetyDevin
McCourty
may not be the shutdown cornerback many anticipated after a Pro Bowl
rookie season. But he's still a damn good defensive back.

McCourty
was forced back into the safety role in the Patriots' secondary on Sunday, a
position played at times toward the end of the 2011 season. But even with some
prior knowledge, McCourty is still very inexperienced in that position.

"I
haven't had a lot of snaps at it," McCourty admitted on Wednesday. "So
it will still be a learning process."

Learning
a new position can't be easy, especially for a player who has spent the last
seven seasons — including college — in coverage on the outside. New techniques,
new adjustments and new responsibilities can all be severely overwhelming for a
young player. But that's where McCourty sought the guidance of some veterans.

"I
lean a lot on our coaches and guys like Steve [Gregory] and Pat [Chung], who
weren't able to play last week, but I listen to those guys a lot,"
McCourty said of transitioning to safety. "And I just try to use my
knowledge of the defense to help me out and know different things to do back
there."

The
direction from Chung and Gregory obviously helped on Sunday against the Jets as
McCourty looked comfortable in the deep spot and the secondary actually seemed
to be more secure; at least Bill Belichick thought so.

"I
thought the deep part of the field was more secure than it's been,"
Belichick said after Sunday's 29-26 win.

McCourty
has found some inherent differences from his normal cornerback role while
learning the new position. But nothing he's been unable to adjust to.

"You
just get to see it from a different vantage point, and you get to see the whole
field different than playing corner. The biggest thing is you just have to have
a different level of responsibility as far as making sure everyone is lined up,
making sure everyone is playing the same coverage."

While
there have been complications in the transition, McCourty hasn't found much of
a difference in his preparation each week. He's said he watches the same film
and keeps the same understanding of what he's looking for in the offense. But
even with the difficulties associated with the switch, McCourty has seemed
to find some satisfaction in the responsibility that comes along with playing
safety.

"[I'm]
trying to be more vocal, trying to be more aware of different things. How I can
help the other guys out on the field, because the safeties have the best view
on the field," McCourty said. "They have enough space between them
and the offense and can see the whole field. So, just trying to let other guys
know what I saw back there and help the defense."

Under McCourty's leadership,
and hopefully with the return of Chung alongside him this weekend, this
secondary might just be salvageable after all. There is a lot of talent in the
Patriots' defensive backfield, and if guys like McCourty are embracing the
challenge, then there may just be hope yet.

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