FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ defense could be looking much better in the postseason.
The Patriots’ top two defensive backs, safety Devin McCourty and cornerback Aqib Talib, could be at near-full health by the time New England plays its divisional-round playoff game at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 11 at 8:15 p.m., hosting the highest remaining seed in the AFC. McCourty missed Week 17 with a concussion that he suffered Week 16 against the Ravens. Talib has been dealing with a bum hip that has kept him on the injury report since Week 6.
The cornerback originally suffered the injury against the New Orleans Saints and aggravated it against the Carolina Panthers in his first game back after missing three games (Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith memorably told Talib to “Ice up, son” via NFL Network after Carolina won).
Talib said the injury has been feeling better in recent weeks. When told it appeared his hip was improving based on his play on the field, Talib smiled and said “thanks.”
McCourty was back at practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering his concussion. McCourty spoke in the locker room after practice, which is a good sign for his health.
“I’m feeling all right,” McCourty said. “Doing pretty good.”
McCourty said he’s never had a concussion before. He was injured while tackling Ravens tight end Ed Dickson. McCourty was wobbly getting up from the play; linebacker Brandon Spikes had to catch him from falling.
The Patriots will use the bye week to heal up. There are numerous injuries on offense and defense that can only improve with nearly two weeks of rest.