DB DEVIN MCCOURTY
Q: How, if at all, has the dynamic changed in the secondary this year and have you taken on a leadership role?
DM: Yeah I think when you talk about guys like Steve [Gregory] and Will [Allen] coming in after a bunch of years in the NFL and they brought in some of that knowledge and leadership to the team and Marquice [Cole] with some of the rookies in Nate [Ebner], Tavon [Wilson] and Alfonzo [Dennard, I think they’ve done a good job pointing out what we need to do and they are competing.
Q: How was working as a kick returner Friday at Tampa Bay and do you see yourself doing any of that going forward?
DM: It’s cool as a defensive guy to have the chance to get the ball in your hands. I did it a couple times in the preseason of my rookie year, so whatever coach decides to have me out there doing, I’m going to try to take advantage of the opportunities.
Q: Is returning kicks a little bit like riding a bike where you can just pick up where you left off?
DM: I wouldn’t say it’s that easy, but once you do it a couple times you get used to it. I think a lot of returners use what they have, their skill set, going out there and running hard. I know when I’m on kickoff team we go out there and set everything up so when I go out there I try to do that and help those guys block and get the offense started
Q: Can you talk a little bit about Alfonzo Dennard and what kind of guy he is?
DM: I think one great thing about him is how hard he has worked. He’s a guy who’s been limited throughout training camp a little bit with injuries, but he’s worked hard to pay attention in the film room and weight room to get back on the field. So I think it’ll be exciting once he gets out there and picks up where everyone else is. Whenever you see rookies out there you just try to encourage them.
Q: How do you feel about the progress of the secondary so far?
DM: I think we still have a little ways to go. Like you guys know throughout the season and the preseason, the goal is to get better with practice each week. I think we’ve done that throughout training camp and we’ve made progress but we’re not there yet. We have one more preseason game to go and a little over a week of practice but I think if we keep putting in the work and getting ready that we’ll be ready to go by the opener.
Q: There are two big cut down dates this week, and while you’re probably never had to worry about cuts, what has it been like watching other players throughout the year and what have you learned about dealing with it?
DM: I think that’s one of the worst parts of this business of playing football is those two cut down dates. The guys have come in and worked hard every day, putting their best foot forward and letting the chips fall where they may. I remember when my brother was in the same spot as a sixth-round draft pick and I remember encouraging. I told him that he did everything he could, worked hard, so whatever happens, he should be happy with the effort he put forth.
Q: Speaking of your brother, has the trash talking for your game against each other started yet?
DM: [Laughs] No, not really. Knowing that we’re playing in the opener, I’ve tried not to talk to him. I told him to leave me alone and we’ll talk after the opener.
Q: What are you guys looking to accomplish this week?
DM: Coach Belichick has challenged us asked us to get better, as he does each week, listening to what he says and work towards it. Whatever he feels we need to get done and to improve this week, we’ll move forward. We just have to keep pushing and get better.
Q: What have you felt the challenge in returning kicks is so far?
DM: The biggest thing is trying to find an opening to hit. It’s very tough during kickoff returns because your teammates are trying to block guys and you’re running full speed at them. As a returner, we have to try to help out those guys every way as long as they can get in front of their guy and turn them one way or another. As a kickoff returner, I am trying to read the block better and go the opposite way. We have to try to help those guys out as they make blocks.
Q: Your brother just got a new contract. Does that mean he has to pay next time you guys go out for dinner?
DM: Oh yeah, definitely. I’m trying to see how many new toys he can buy me with all that money he has.
Q: Did you ask him for anything specific?
DM: Yeah I asked him for a couple things but if I let it out now I might not get it.
Q: How would you compare you and your brother as players?
DM: We’re probably very similar. I know when people watch us on film they say that we have a lot of the same body mechanics, how we run, how we move on the field. I don’t always get to watch him but people say that we are similar in the way we play.
Q: As a brother, how nice is it when you get news like that since he came in the hard way as a late-round pick?
DM: It is great. As a big brother coming in to watch his little brother come in as a sixth-round draft pick and establish himself in the NFL, he says it’s a dream come true. He said his biggest worry was trying to make it to his next contract, so to make it to the next contract and make it that big I think it shows how hard he’s worked.