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Sports

November 9, 2012

Patriots CB McCourty transitions to safety

(Continued)

As a first-round draft choice out of Rutgers, McCourty had seven interceptions as a rookie. But he had just two last season before some poor games at cornerback this year.

The secondary seemed headed for another one when it allowed Sam Bradford’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Chris Givens on the first series of the Patriots’ most recent game. But St. Louis didn’t score again and they beat the Rams 45-7 in London two weeks ago.

McCourty spent part of the bye week in Montvale, N.J., where Superstorm Sandy knocked out power to his mother’s house. He bought her a generator before the power came back on Tuesday. By that time, McCourty was back in Foxborough, preparing to play wherever coach Bill Belichick wants him.

“He’s pretty good at everything,” Belichick said. “He’s a good tackler. He’s fast. He’s instinctive. He has a good feel for the game wherever you put him in terms of leverage, angles, decisions, that kind of thing. He’s smart. He has the mental flexibility to go back and forth between assignments.”

And he’s willing to do that.

“He’s a selfless player who just wants to do whatever he can to help the team win,” safeties coach Brian Flores said. “He has all the traits: he communicates, he’s a focused player, he’s smart, he does a lot of things well. He can make that transition. A lot of guys can’t. I’m happy to have him.”

He’s not the only one.

With three rookie draft picks starting or substituting in the secondary — safeties Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard — McCourty’s settling influence is significant, especially with Gregory and Chung sidelined.

“I feel like Devin helped me out a lot,” Wilson said. “He’s kind of like a big brother to me back there and he keeps things calm because there’s so many young guys back there.”

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