FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick made life in practice even more difficult on the New England Patriots’ defense with his offseason moves.
The Patriots were busy adding wide receiver Brandin Cooks, tight end Dwayne Allen and running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee to an already stacked offense. Defensive captain Devin McCourty gave his initial impression of Cooks, who caught a deep pass from quarterback Tom Brady during Wednesday’s minicamp session, after facing him in seven practices.
“He’s a hard-working guy,” McCourty said Wednesday. “All those guys have come in and worked hard. Obviously, the one thing that sticks out, he’s very fast and another weapon, another guy who I think is coming out here trying to just get everything down. You can tell he’s hard on himself and he’s trying to be the best out there. I’ve enjoyed watching him so far. It’s always fun trying to shut down those guys.”
McCourty describes it as fun. Opposing teams might not, since this is the most offensive firepower Brady has had since 2007, when he threw for 50 touchdowns. McCourty is used to the challenge, though.
“Yeah, and I think that’s how it’s been here for years, though, as far as the competition,” McCourty said. “Guys just go out there and compete.
“Obviously, this year, we have a lot of guys that have played football either here or other places and played at starting level and played a lot of snaps. Anytime you get a good group of guys and you have a lot of depth, I think it just adds to your team. For us defensively, we’ve kind of gotten to that step where we have depth where guys have played a lot of football for us, so we want each group to go in there and be seamless, go in there and perform at a high level and keep it going. It just gets us better as a team.”
McCourty and the defense received some help of their own this offseason when the Patriots added cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive linemen Kony Ealy and Lawrence Guy and drafted pass rushers Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise. Practices could be even more difficult than actual games for both sides of the ball.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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