Patriots’ Jason McCourty Continuing To Improve, Could See Big Role Week 3


Sep 20, 2018

FOXBORO, Mass. — It didn’t take long for Jason McCourty to receive a significant share of defensive snaps after spending the summer on the New England Patriots’ roster bubble.

McCourty played 74.6 percent of defensive snaps in Week 2, filling in for benched starting cornerback Eric Rowe. It was assumed Rowe was benched for his performance since he allowed a touchdown and was promptly removed from the game, but the corner hit the injury report Thursday, limited with a groin injury.

Regardless of the reason for Rowe’s benching, McCourty could wind up playing a big role in Week 3 against the Detroit Lions. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could elect to sit Rowe and start McCourty at cornerback. McCourty also has experience playing safety with the Patriots and starting strong safety Patrick Chung didn’t practice Wednesday because of a concussion.

Belichick continues to see improvement out of McCourty.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Belichick said. “Yeah, he had a good amount of playing time last week. I thought he did a really solid job for us. He’s been able to fulfill a number of roles, both defensively and in the kicking game. He has good versatility, he’s a smart guy, has a lot of experience, so those are all positives.”

It seems more likely McCourty will play cornerback, whether Chung plays Sunday or not. The Patriots likely will run their nickel defense with three cornerbacks and two safeties rather than their typical base defense of three safeties and two cornerbacks. McCourty is ready to take on either role at any time.

“I feel comfortable getting reps at corner,” McCourty said. “I’ve gotten — you guys have seen through my time here — gotten reps at safety, as well. Just trying to do any and everything to help the team win, whichever manner that they need me, so if somebody’s banged up a little bit, I gotta go in there at corner. If somebody’s banged up at safety, I have to go in there at safety. Just being able to do whatever’s asked of me is very important.”

McCourty is comfortable in the Patriots’ defense, which explains the Patriots’ trust in having him learn two much different roles in his first season with the team. His time at safety has even strengthened his understanding of playing cornerback in New England’s defense.

“The safeties have to know a lot of different things,” McCourty said. “You need to know what your corner’s doing, what your linebacker’s doing. So, at corner, by the time I was doing both, I knew everything I had to know as far as corner, and when I got to safety, I was like, ‘Ooh, gotta pump my brakes a little bit. Some things I have to learn.’

“So, (Devin McCourty) and (Duron Harmon), they’ve been big for me just throughout the meeting, they yell over to me, ‘Hey, on that, it’s sometimes just a small thing, but make sure you see this or see that.’ It’s definitely enhanced my ability just to learn, and I think now when you go back at corner, you know exactly what the safety has.”

Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images
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