Entering his 12th season with the Patriots, Devin McCourty is one of the unquestioned leaders and carriers of the legacy that has been built in New England over the last 20 years. Since arriving as a first-round rookie cornerback out of Rutgers, McCourty has ascended to one of the bedrock names of the Patriots dynasty and though many similarly-known faces have departed, the safety remains one of the championship holdovers, and one now charged with getting a young and new-looking team back into the playoffs.
After a solid day of their first padded practice, McCourty and the 2021 team are well on their way toward kicking off a new campaign. With many new faces, McCourty likes what he's seen so far from the latest edition.
"I think the way this team is built, we're physical on both sides of the ball... our offense wants to run the ball, we have big guys up front," said McCourty following the session. "It's a good day anytime we get out here. We get a chance to get better and see what the run game looks like from an offensive and defensive standpoint. Obviously, we've been talking it, we've been kind of semi-repping it without the pads on. Today's the day where now the coaches will coach us up and it will probably be even more intense next time with pads because now you get to correct stuff and see what you need to do differently."
With the first padded practice not coming until the sixth practice, things look a lot different than when McCourty first arrived, when it was unknown how long practices would be or what the players would be wearing. McCourty pointed out it was probably even harder on players like Tedy Bruschi who was again in attendance on Tuesday.
Regardless of when the hitting starts, it's important for both sides of the ball to put together solid days. While the defense ended Monday's session with a goal-line stop, Tuesday's featured the offense riding their ground game to a better performance.
"I've been here for years and training camp's always been, as Bill [Belichick] or [Brian Flores] or Matty [Patricia] would say, it has to be like a heavyweight fight of back and forth, good days, bad days," said McCourty. "If one side dominates it looks good, but overall you won't have a good team. We can't be one-sided."
2020 provided challenges like no other season before, as McCourty had to get many new faces up to speed while only seeing them as just exactly that -- faces on a computer screen. But in 2021, with players back at the facility, it's a little easier to get everyone on the same page, both on the field and off it.
"It's not the challenge of getting to know a guy and trying to get better at football, we know guys more and that's been huge," said McCourty.
McCourty tapped some previous Patriots veterans to get their advice on playing into a second decade, as he clearly takes a sense of pride in continuing the Patriot Way for future generations.
"Compete at a high level against each other but also say 'hey let me help you,'" said McCourty. "I think that's what it's about, that's how you build a team, that's how you get better, that's how the future of the Patriots organization ends up in good hands, and I think that guys that have been here for a while like myself, you care about that and you're invested in this organization. It's something that we all try to do as older players."
Quotes of Note
Kristian Wilkerson on valuing Matthew Slater as a mentor:
"Just trying to soak it all up because he's done it so well for a long time. He's a good guy to look up to, I look up to him in every aspect on the field and off it."
Deatrich Wise on the Patriots offensive line:
"I believe we have one of the best offensive lines that I've seen so far. These guys come to work every day, they're big, they're strong, they've gotten better. I feel like this is the best look we're going to see. I take much pride going against these guys every day."
Michael Onwenu on what a difference 2021 makes:
"We've gotten to do a lot of stuff that we didn't get to do last year. Watching film through Zoom was a little hard but watching it in person you get to talk to the guy next to you and pick their brain."
Check out photos of the Patriots during Training Camp on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.