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Devin McCourty Press Conference Transcript

Posted Jan 17, 2013

Patriots safety Devin McCourty addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, January 17, 2013.

Q: A big focus recently for the Ravens offense has been their vertical passing game. Now that you're playing more safety, has your approach to being the final line of defense changed?

DM: A little bit. It’s just a different role, but I think as all of us, as secondary players, we have to realize it’s our job to kind of try to take away those deep passes. We can’t allow them to just throw the ball over our heads. I think all of us have to have that mentality and understand what they’re trying to do and I think the biggest thing is understanding how strong [Joe] Flacco’s arm is because I think we already know how fast some of the receiver are over there. So it’s just being aware and making plays down the field.

Q: How have you seen Joe Flacco evolve and change as a quarterback over the past few years?

DM: For me, being a young guy coming in, I thought he was a pretty good quarterback when I got into the league. I think he does a good job of handling their team and making the right decisions. I think playing quarterback puts a lot on you. I think he does a good job of not turning the ball over. When you see a guy make the plays he made last week, with I think a little over a minute left it was 70, 80 yards – to make that play down the field is big. I think he's clutch and he makes plays for them.

Q: You mentioned Flacco’s arm strength. Do you have to make adjustments on your routes since the ball may get their faster because of his arm strength?

DM: No, I think you have to be aware of it. You have to know, just like any other team we play, that week you scout them, you watch film and you understand what they do well and you have to know those things. You can’t just go out on the field and play everybody the same. I think it will be key just watching film and understanding what Flacco does really well.

Q: You were teammates with Ray Rice for one season at Rutgers, correct?

DM: No, we came in together so we’re pretty good friends. We hang out a little bit in the offseason. There are a bunch of us that went to school together and came in at the same time at Rutgers and won a lot of games there. The biggest thing, I think, is that none of that will matter Sunday. We’ll be going at it just like every other time we’ve played in the NFL.

Q: Did you grow up near him?

DM: Yeah, we grew up about 20, 25 minutes away from each other.

Q: Did you know him before Rutgers?

DM: No. I knew of him, but I didn’t know him.

Q: Rob Ninkovich has had a nose for the football. When you guys do the practice drills with fumbles and such, what is he like? Is he as aggressive? What does he bring that makes him so good at that?

DM: I think talking about recovering fumbles and all that, that’s hustle. Rob’s a guy whose engine is always going. He's a high motor guy; he's always running around the field to make those plays. I think people kind of overlook his ability to drop back [like] last week and make an interception. He's able to do a lot of things, whether it’s picking off passes, causing fumbles, recovering fumbles. He's a big part of our defense and he makes a lot of plays. Those turnovers are always key.

Q: Are the Ravens receivers more fast or physical?

DM: Well, it matters who you are talking about.

Q: Torrey Smith.

DM: He’s a fast guy; he moves. That’s not to say he's not physical at all, but I think one of his biggest strengths is his speed and if you give him a step or two, it will turn into three or four. You just have to be aware of how fast he is.

Q: Anquan Boldin is more physical?

DM: Yeah, he’s a very physical guy. I mean, you can tell, I think, by his size and his strength. He really uses that to his advantage of how physical he can be out there in routes and in blocking.

Q: As a safety and a captain on this defense, do you take more accountability for the way your secondary group performs?

DM: Definitely. I think one cool thing about our defense is we almost have a captain at every level. Playing safety, I think you kind of have to be accountable for the whole defense and the coverage as whole because so much of the communication will be between those two safeties letting the corners know, letting the linebackers know what we’re doing, what coverage we’re playing and different things like that. Being a captain and a safety, I think a lot of the communication falls on me and whoever else is in at safety. Especially with me and Steve [Gregory] in there, we have to do a lot of communicating.

Q: Do you like that responsibility?

DM: Yeah. It’s good. You have to put the work in studying and know what different guys are doing, what the offense is doing, what your guys need to do. That’s always key. When you can get guys on the same page, I think that’s when we play at our best.

Q: As a younger player and captain, is it sometimes difficult to command some guys’ attention? How have you progressed in that role?

DM: I think the biggest thing I’ve done is just learn from the other guys around me in those captains meetings and being around guys like Tom [Brady], Vince [Wilfork], Jerod [Mayo], Slate [Matthew Slater], Logan [Mankins]. I think the biggest ones really were Slate and Mayo just because Mayo was named captain in his second year and then Slate was also a younger [captain] last year in his third year. Just learning from those guys and seeing what they do and just modeling myself after their actions and how they lead.

Q: You spent a lot of time chasing guys down last week on special teams. How much better do you guys have to be this week, because Jacoby Jones is the best in the business?

DM: Yeah, exactly. We have to just be sound. We can’t allow him to run around and make those big plays. He's a very fast guy. If he breaks out I doubt we’ll be able to catch him, so it will be key to just try to contain him and keep him away from making those big plays on special teams because this time of year you really can’t afford to give up those huge plays.

Q: How have things changed for you logistically or preparation wise since Aqib Talib has been here and you shifted positions?

DM: You know, not really changed. I’ll always watch film and prepare. I think my mentality has changed a little bit as far as trying to be the head communication guy back there with Steve. So not just being able to watch and see how the play affects me or how I'm going to play something, but just to be able to watch things and see if I can get any type of keys or pre-snap reads that I can let everybody else on the defense know. Vocally, I’ve really thought about speaking more; as soon as I see something, trying to yell it out to the defense. So I think the biggest thing I’ve changed is my mentality and how I approach it.

Q: Is that a big transition for you? Was that more of your style before or are you learning as you go?

DM: Probably a little bit of both. Playing a little safety in college, you had to do it, but what I’ve got here is totally different, communicating in the NFL and letting guys know what’s around them. I’ve just kind of been learning on the job and each week has gotten better and I’ve gotten more conformable. So I'm just trying to take it one day at a time.

Q: Other than the Super Bowl, all of your playoff games have been here. How important has that been and how important can that be?

DM: It’s good that we get to stay home, but once you get out there on the field, you have two teams going at it, all playing for one common goal. I don’t care where you play; it’s not going to change how one team comes out. Just because you're at home doesn’t mean you're going to be more prepared than the team that’s on the road. I think the team we’re playing now shows that. They’ve won a lot of road playoff games over the last couple years, so I don’t think the home field advantage will really be that much of a difference as far as [assuming] since we’re at home we’re going to win. But as a player, you always love playing in front of your fans.

Q: When Ray Rice came out of Rutgers there were a lot of questions about his size. Were you at all surprised at how well he played right out of the shoot?

DM: No, not at all. That was our guy in college. He made a lot of big plays for us and when we watched as he went into the NFL. I think we were all excited for him. You never know what’s going to happen, but I don’t think there were many guys in college that doubted he was going to be a big success in the NFL.

Q: What was one thing that stood out to you about Ray Rice in college?

DM: His balance. I think it still shows in the NFL. Just maybe because he is so small, he has great balance and leg strength that allows him to break a lot of tackles.

Q: Do you ever think back on that play that Sterling Moore made on Lee Evans to break up that touchdown pass? And being on the field, did you realize how close it was?

DM: No, not at the time. You just realized that he made a good play. That’s what these games kind of come down to. We know it’s going to go down the stretch; it’s going to go down to the end of the game. Whatever team makes more plays at the end of the game, that’s going to be big to determine who the winner is.

Q: As a defensive back, growing up was Ed Reed someone you looked at to model yourself after?

DM: Yeah, I think growing up watching football, that’s one guy that sticks out to everybody that plays the defensive back position. Just his awareness and his knack to make plays in almost every part of the game: Special teams, defense, intercepting the ball, fumble recoveries, forced fumbles. He's kind of done it all.

Q: There were a few situations this year where you or a teammate was going up against a brother. Can you imagine what it will be like for Chandler Jones to go against his brother Arthur, who plays for the Ravens? Can you imagine what your family would be going through if you were facing your brother in a game of this magnitude?

DM: I think more of the stress goes on your family because they kind of want both sides to win, but when you're a part of it all you want is your side to win. You don’t really care about your brother losing.

Q: Coach Belichick has mentioned that coming out of college, you were great at breaking down film and knowing what everybody on the defense is doing. With a lot of relatively inexperienced guys in your secondary, how much of a leader are you in the film room? Are you explaining to guys what they’re seeing in there?

DM: I think a lot of that is not just helping them with what they’re seeing, but just making sure we all see it the same way. As soon as you watch film together as a group, you know what calls you plan on running and what you want to do. So the next thing is just making sure you all see it the same way and if you can all see it the same way, it doesn’t always matter who’s right, who’s wrong. If you can all see it the same, you can usually make a good play.