WATERTOWN, Mass. — Devin McCourty didn’t seem overly concerned when talking about star cornerback Darrelle Revis’ absence from New England Patriots minicamp. In fact, the Patriots safety chose to focus on the positives of a starter being out of practice.
Organized team activities and minicamp are the perfect opportunity for a team to jell, and while nearly every player is eventually filtered into the first-team offense and defense during spring sessions, Revis’ absence gave cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington increased reps with the starters.
“It’s good. I think one of the good things is — what we haven’t had in years past is another guy steps in, and he’s already played a lot of football, and he’s already played well,” McCourty said Wednesday at NESN. “Today, you know, with (Revis) not going, and him not being out there, (Ryan) steps in and you don’t even miss a beat. Shoot, Logan’s been in here getting (first-team) reps anyway. You don’t think about it. And I think once (Alfonzo Dennard) comes back, we’ll have that with all of our guys in there with (Dennard), Kyle, (Brandon Browner), Revis, (Ryan). All those guys have already played a lot of good football for us. So we won’t think twice with anybody in there.”
The Patriots’ depth at cornerback might be the biggest strength on the entire roster. Fans were concerned when the team allowed Aqib Talib to walk in free agency, but those worries quickly were quelled when the team signed Revis, then Browner. Arrington is a solid slot cornerback, Dennard was a starter for the past two seasons and Ryan forced the Patriots to find him snaps as a rookie, when he recorded five interceptions.
The Patriots will need some of those reserves to step up at the beginning of the season, when Browner is serving a four-game suspension. The team also will need a fifth cornerback, and there already are plenty of options stepping up in OTAs and minicamp. Rookie Jemea Thomas has looked solid and also can play safety, and second-year pro Daxton Swanson has been a spring superstar, picking off rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo twice during Wednesday’s minicamp practice.
“I think that’s the good thing with these spring sessions, just the blending and building communication, camaraderie within the secondary,” McCourty said. “I think a lot of people focus on the first four guys, or the first five guys, but you know it’s really the unit. We saw last year, injuries happen, and you need guys to step in. I think this time gives us a good amount of time to work in everybody.”
The Patriots are renowned for their team-first mentality, and Revis, in the past, has been known as a me-first player. But McCourty hasn’t seen any selfishness from Revis or Browner.
“You can just tell by how they’re coming out and just learning,” McCourty said. “Some things, when you’re a new guy, you come out of a different system, things you’re hearing now, it won’t be natural. It won’t be second nature to you. You might have done it somewhere else different. You might think, ‘Wow I’ve never done this before.’ But no matter what they hear, they’re like ‘OK, OK.’ That’s how they’re taking it from the meeting room and trying to get it done in the practice field.
“I’ve seen that numerous times out there, where they might mess up on something a day before, and then we talk about it and they get it right, right away. When you have that in springtime, you know guys are not just coming to facility, doing to OTA and go home. They’re actually thinking about it and watching it on the iPad or something at home and coming back trying to fix it the next day.”
McCourty knows a thing or two about selflessness after moving from cornerback to safety. It wound up being a good move by head coach Bill Belichick, since McCourty earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2013.
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