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Devin McCourty Press Conference Transcript - 4/21/2016

New England Patriots DB Devin McCourty addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, April 21, 2016.

Q: What's the atmosphere been like in the offseason program thus far?

DM: I don't know. Three days in, two days on, yesterday was an off day. I think guys are just excited, you know, coming back after a little bit of a break you just come back excited, ready to work, ready to meet new guys, start to build a team. Every year is kind of I think the same type of energy. Obviously, every year the team's different but always [has] that same first-day-of-school energy and mentality when guys come together and starting to learn and work out together.

Q: How do you think the strength program might change now that Moses Cabrera has taken on the role of head strength and conditioning coach?

DM: We'll see. I mean obviously anybody that gets to the top, like the head job, you'll have your own beliefs and different things. I'm sure some of the things will stay the same, like over the past two days some things are similar. I've worked with Mo a lot so some of the things I've done before already. I'm sure they'll be some slight changes even moving forward. The first week there was a little bit of change but to me working out is working out. How you do it will always vary and change depending on different people's belief but its working out. Lifting, as Bill [Belichick] always says, 'There's no magic potion', so we're running and trying to get into shape that way.

Q: How do you feel about the offseason moves the team has made to this point?

DM: I guess they're good. We'll see. Every guy that's been here is ready to work and ready to go. I don't know, I don't think my opinion matters, but I think we'll have guys ready to go and hopefully it works out for the best.

Q: How important is this time of year to establish the level of accountability you expect from teammates going forward into the regular season?

DM: I'm not going to lie, the regular season hasn't crossed my mind at all yet. To me, right now it's about trying to dominate and do well in the spring time. Starting out just lifting and running, not even football and practice and stuff. I think right now we want to prepare for a mentality going into the OTA's when we start that. I always think defense first just because that's where I'm at, and I think developing that mentality of how we want to be as a defense looking in just to the OTA start and different things like that for practice and going against our offense. I think that's important for us now, important to talk about how we want to be as a defense and as team but the actual, 'Can I see if I can trust a guy in the weight room?' I think a little bit of that [happens] in college. I think guys work hard and that's how you get to this level and stay at this level so I don't really worry about that. Once we get on the field and start practicing you get to see where guys are at, see what you need to do as a leader and a veteran player to help guys, and do those things and start to build as a unit and as a team, but for right now I think encouraging everybody and going out there and working together to do the lifting and running and stuff.

Q: Is bonding and getting to know teammates a big deal at this point in the offseason?

DM: Yeah, I think so. I think the personal bond is always good. I think your team gets better when you can know a guy personally and feel open to talk to him and push each other and do different things like that. I think that comes into effect down the line. Let's say you have a close friend on the team who might not be out there a lot and then, as we all know, during the season guys are called into action. You have a good relationship [and] you're able to talk to them, communicate with them. I think it's like any other workplace, the better you know your coworkers personally and as a unit, as a team, as a group, usually you're able to perform better. Your group gets better after you know each other, you can challenge each other, you can help each other out. I think we do that now naturally just as guys coming together and lifting and working out. We're trying to get stronger and faster and all of that so competition helps that. I just think guys naturally start to bond and form together as a group.

Q: How has the dynamic changed with Jerod Mayo not around anymore?

DM: It's a little more quiet not having Mayo around but we'll see. He was a huge part of this team – offense, defense, everything, just a huge part. I don't think you can replace him with a guy. You can't tell a guy on the team, 'Well now you need to step up into Mayo's role', but I think that's why it's always so important to understand that every year the team is different. I think this team will be a little different without him but we'll have to see how it changes, what develops, but he'll definitely be missed in the locker room and on the field just because of who he is and how great of a person he is.

Q: Have you seen other guys start to step up as leaders at all to this point?

DM: Not really. I mean, we lift at different times. We have two different groups so the team is kind of split on whether you want to work out early or work out a little later. I think guys are just being themselves and that's how I always try to tell guys and encourage, 'Just be yourself', and everything else will fall into suit with that.

Q: Is there excitement that you guys will have some continuity this year on defense seeing as you are returning 10 defensive starters?

DM: Yeah, I think it definitely helps. Coming in last year just losing guys and not knowing where guys are going to be – I think now we know. I mean obviously 10 starters, we all have to go and make sure we go and get our starting jobs back first, but I just think that experiencing it and coming back with knowledge and experience of being out there in big games and seeing things I think enables you when we start actually with the X's and O's of football, you can start a little further ahead and rely on guys that have been out there to help all the guys out. Whenever you have guys that have been out there and played I think it helps your football team. Guys like Logan [Ryan] and Malcolm [Butler] who have been out there previously but then being out there on an every down basis, those guys come back I think with a world of confidence knowing that they just need to keep getting better and better. They know they can do the job. I'm excited for us just as a secondary, as a unit. Going through last year and going through I think a phase at this point in time where it's like a big unknown and now having a core group of guys that can help bring other guys along the way and get guys like Justin [Coleman], who came in late and now he'll get a full offseason, [Rashaan] Melvin, J-Rich [Jordan Richards], all those guys now will be here full time and full offseason. It's encouraging. Your unit just keeps getting stronger and stronger and then obviously we'll add guys I guess next week that is at the draft. This is just an exciting part, add guys, get to know each other and just get better.

Q: Did playing with a group of young cornerbacks help you at all or make you change the way you play?

DM: No, I think the year before with older guys it's a lot of communicating on, 'What did you do, how did you see it?', and I think younger guys it's the same thing, communicating on, 'Well is this the first time you saw it, how do you see it?' It's all the same. I think how the conversation flows is a little bit different because an older guy might have a ton of experience and now you're trying to blend and meet somewhere in the middle on how you see things or maybe you see things perfectly the same, where I think a younger guy – they're leaning on you a little bit more of, 'I want to know exactly how you see it because I want to see it that way rather than me try to go out on my own', but really the same type of communication and trying to go back and forth and understand each other. I just think the conversation probably moved a little differently with a bunch of older guys.

Q: Has your approach to how you deal with the season coming to an abrupt end changed as you've become an older player in the league?

DM: My first couple of years I took as much time as I wanted, relaxed. This year I got one day and my fiancé said, 'Let's start this wedding planning and get things done'. I think as you get older you get more responsibility. You've got guys that have kids and wives at home. You don't have time to just unwind gradually. You have to move on and your personal and daily life doesn't stop. Obviously, I don't care who you are – you compete, you want to play – and you want to move on until there is no more moving on and playing that last game but it doesn't always happen that way. I think as you get older, you understand how important it is to move on and not let last season affect next season because me now, going into year seven, you don't know how many more seasons you have left and be able to compete and try to win games.

Q: How much attention do you pay to the overall additions the team makes, perhaps on the other side of the ball, and how much time do you have to get to know these guys?

DM: I don't know the guys. I know like when we signed [Martellus] Bennett I was like, 'Well, he's pretty good'. We played him in Chicago and playing safety we had to cover him and different things like that, so you're like well if he plays how he had played there and we have another good tight end we should be pretty good. But I'm past the point of I'm not sitting in my room like, 'This is great. We've got the master'. But it's exciting. I think it was cool when [Chris] Hogan signed I was already working out with him like the week before and then he came up here and he actually signed so it was just funny how that all came together, but I think you know just from guys that are in the league you get to teams and you know there are other good players coming in. They see you walk, see how things are here, and you just catch up and you understand how much work needs to go into it. You understand just because you were good somewhere else and we were good last year it's not just going to automatically blend and go together, and I think that was evident in 2014 when we saw [Darrelle] Revis, [Brandon] Browner, [Patrick] Chung came back and we started the season 2-2, getting blown out in Kansas City. I think for everyone that thought it would just happen and you go undefeated and you win the Super Bowl, it doesn't happen that way. I don't care who you bring in, who you have back, it's a ton of work that goes in just to be an OK team and then if you want to be a great team you have to put even more work in and I think that's important this time of year; understanding that it's not just half the group or some of the leaders. As a whole group we understand how much work needs to be put in just to be OK and then how much more work has to be put in just if we want to get back to where we lost last year.

Q: Brandon LaFell and Darelle Revis had mentioned when they got here how different it was from their previous teams. Do you have to explain to new guys that it might be a little bit different type of expectation level here and that they need to be ready from the start?

DM: No, I think guys know from the first day and I think it's known throughout the NFL that this place is a little different. Obviously, guys come in, you don't know how different. You might say, 'This is really different', or for some guys, 'This is kind of what I expected', but I think that is true. Those two guys were both new to the team and probably riding together like, 'Wow', and I think that's the good part, when guys come in and they say it';s different but they understand it's different for a reason. [There are] higher expectations. The guys that we have that are here for a while they expect to play at a certain level and you understand that we have a guy in charge that knows what it takes and if we follow that lead we'll be OK no matter how hard it is, how much you might not want to do it one day, you know what it's for and I think that's what makes it like you said earlier, tough when you don't get to where you want to get, because you know what you put in and what you thought was going to happen and what you envisioned and dreamed of, and then when it doesn't happen that's what makes it hard when the season does end. You understand that's a part of the game. You have to do the same thing again and hope you take that next step forward and win it.

Q: How do you feel about having a fellow Rutgers guy in new coach Steve Belichick working with the safeties?

DM: It's the greatest thing. Why would we not do that? But I think it's really encouraging. Steve's a guy that's been here and just been a sponge learning everything. It's been cool for me. I've been here since he got here and just to see how much he's developed and worked hard and it seems like he's always here so he's very excited to be the safety coach and have a good group coming. We have some leaders and guys that are definitely going to try and help him out as much as possible. I think his dad is a pretty good coach so I'm sure he's learned a lot from him and I think it'll just be important for us to learn from what he's going to bring and how it'll change us a little bit. He really believes in a lot of the things Flo [Brian Flores] was saying to us in the previous years but he'll have his own style and what he wants to do, so I'm excited to have a young guy come in and we know he's going to be full of energy, ready to go every day. I'm just excited just to learn with him and go through the process.

Q: What's the game plan for your wedding next weekend?

DM: Next weekend's about having fun. [I'm] taking a huge step so it's exciting and hopefully I make it through the day, but it'll actually be a fun just reunion of a ton of guys that have played here that I've become really close with and get to celebrate love.

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