FOXBORO, Mass. — Chris Berman (yes, that Chris Berman) on Monday asked Bill Belichick a question that could’ve resulted in a boilerplate non-answer.
“What position group do you feel most confident about?” Berman asked.
But Belichick actually gave a real answer, and one that’s hard to argue with: the safeties. The New England Patriots head coach praised each member of the loaded group before saying: “That’s probably the No. 1”.
(You can click here to read Belichick’s full comments.)
Longtime Patriots safety Devin McCourty was asked about Belichick’s comments during locker room availability after Monday’s practice. He revealed that he’d already heard/read the remarks, and also praised each member of the group while explaining what makes it so good.
“I like our group,” McCourty said. ” … I think we have a unique group because even the three guys who returned from last year as the top group: (Kyle Dugger’s) a D-2 player who, everybody said, ‘Why would they draft him? — he had to prove that; (Adrian Phillips) coming up undrafted, sat on the couch for 10 weeks and sat his rookie year; and I was the reach years ago. So, I think we have a standard of all these guys that come in and compete. None of us come in with kind of a mindset that we’re good.
“And you know, when you add to that a guy like Jabrill Peppers, first-round pick who’s played a lot of good football in this league coming off of an injury. And then I think one of the coolest stories has been (Joshuah Bledsoe). You know, Bled missed all of last year, had to learn from watching film and not participating which is really hard to do when you’re a rookie. I think it’s made a very good group that’s pushed each other to be better.”
McCourty added: “I think the best part is how well we all get along in the meeting room, challenging each other. (Phillips) is gonna get on you, if anybody gets a fingertip on a ball and doesn’t catch it, he’s gonna be right there. And I think the back and forth has made us better as a group. So, I’m excited for the group. … It’s cool to hear Bill say that, but now you gotta live up to what he said. It’s gonna be a fun year, but I think we got a great foundation and now we gotta build on it.”
The Patriots indeed have a ton of talent at safety — too much, perhaps. While McCourty, Dugger, Phillips and perhaps safety/corner hybrid Myles Bryant are roster locks, it’s tough to tell what will happen with Bledsoe and Peppers.
Bledsoe, a sixth-round pick last year, missed all of his rookie campaign but has played well all offseason. Peppers, meanwhile, didn’t play much during training camp while working his way back from an ACL injury but is an explosive talent who is well-liked by his teammates.
For what it’s worth: We have all six making the cut in our final 53-man roster projection.