Foxboro, Mass. — The competition between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady is a longstanding rivalry. Devin McCourty knows all about it, and that's why he's using the Patriots' quarterback to prepare for Manning's visit to Gillette Stadium this weekend.
McCourty has faced Manning once before, during his rookie season in 2010, and even picked off the former Colts quarterback on the way to a Patriots 31-28 win. So, he has a good basis for defending the four-time NFL MVP. But he knows Manning will be ready come Sunday, and McCourty plans to be just as prepared for the challenge.
"I think the biggest thing is we got to try to not just compete on Sunday. We need to outcompete him during the week right now," McCourty said of this crucial week of practice. "We know he's going to put in the time to be very prepared for our defense. We got to put in the same time so we're prepared for him offensively."
Manning is one of the most well prepared and detail oriented quarterbacks in football, and it shows in his performance on the field. After four games this season, Manning is completing nearly 65 percent of his passes, just a shade under his pre-surgery 66 percent from 2010, and only looks to be getting better with each passing week.
Luckily for the Patriots defense, they're in a unique position squaring off against an equally prepared and precise Brady in practice each day. That's something McCourty is well aware of and has been taking advantage of in preparing for the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
"I think one thing we get to see a lot is another quarterback [like Manning] all the time," McCourty said. "Playing against Brady, he's the type of guy that if you're a little off, you know he's going to be right on. So, I think that mental focus that we have to go and attack practice with, we get to practice on it."
The Patriots know slowing down Manning is a tough feat, and McCourty is well aware that multi-interception games, like the one he enjoyed in Buffalo last week, don't often occur when Manning's the one slinging it for the other team. But in using one future Hall of Famer to prepare for another, McCourty is hopeful the Patriots will at least be able to limit Manning's success.