Devin McCourty and New England Patriots fans might have been having similar thoughts Saturday night.
The Patriots started McCourty, an All-Pro free safety, at right cornerback Saturday night as they continue to try to sort out their starting secondary. The experiment brought back bad memories of McCourty getting torched at cornerback in 2011 before he made the full-time, successful switch to free safety in 2012.
“I hope it’s not permanent,” McCourty said about the position switch Saturday night, via CSNNE.com’s Tom E. Curran.
McCourty and free safety Duron Harmon each took blame for a 45-yard touchdown pass from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to Brandin Cooks late in the first quarter of the Patriots’ 26-24 preseason win.
McCourty was lined up across from Cooks but broke off to his right as Cooks continued upfield toward Harmon, who gave up too much field to the speedy receiver.
“That was my fault,” McCourty said, via the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels. “I’ve got to stay on top and help Duron out. Just got to make a better play.”
At least the Patriots defenders are throwing themselves under the bus while disagreeing on the play.
“(Cooks) just got behind me,” Harmon said, via MassLive.com’s Kevin Duffy. “That was more me than anything. I’ve got to know exactly where he was. We’re even, but him being that fast, I’ve got to give him at least 5 to 10 yards where I can open up and be able to stay on top.”
McCourty last played cornerback late in the 2012 season. He spent all of the 2013 and 2014 seasons — his best in the NFL — at free safety.
“It’s the first time I’ve played corner in a game, I think, in like three years,” McCourty said, via Curran. “So, obviously it’s a lot of frustration but you just gotta play.”
The Patriots allowed 2014 starting cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to walk in free agency this offseason. They also released veterans Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard, leaving just Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan on the roster with Patriots experience.
Butler is expected to start at left cornerback. Ryan, Tarell Brown, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, rookie Darryl Roberts, and apparently McCourty, are competing to start on the right side. Brown played in the slot Saturday night, and Fletcher impressed with two pass breakups. Ryan gave up a big play to wide receiver Josh Morgan, but he also had a pass breakup on a two-point conversion attempt.
The Patriots don’t have their right cornerback spot figured out yet, but it doesn’t seem like McCourty should be the answer, even if their goal was to get Harmon on the field more.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images