FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots secondary is loaded with Rutgers alumni — and now it’s being led by one. That’s a perfect situation if you ask Pro Bowl safety Devin McCourty.
“It’s the greatest thing,’’ said a smiling McCourty Thursday when asked about the offseason promotion of Steve Belichick to safeties coach. “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.’’
Belichick replaced Brian Flores, who moved to linebackers coach when Patrick Graham left to coach the Giants defensive line.
After playing four years of lacrosse at Rutgers, Belichick walked on to the football team and served as a long snapper for a season. He has been a coaching assistant the past four seasons, working mostly with the Patriots defense.
“He really believes in a lot of the things Flo was saying to us in the previous years,” said McCourty, “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.”
In addition to McCourty, safety Duron Harmon and cornerback Logan Ryan also are Rutgers alums.
McCourty, who acknowledged that he doesn’t normally pay a ton of attention to offseason moves, said there were some that caught his eye.
“I know, like, when we signed [Martellus] Bennett, I was like, ‘Well, he’s pretty good,’ ” said McCourty. “But I’m past the point of I’m not sitting in my room like, ‘This is great. We’ve got the master.’ ’’
McCourty had a headstart on getting to know new receiver Chris Hogan, who signed a free agent deal after spending his previous seasons in Buffalo. “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,’’ he said.
The right idea
Donald Brown hasn’t been around the Patriots long, but he’s sure to become fast friends with Tom Brady. The newly signed running back said his “No. 1 job is to keep the quarterback on his feet and keep him clean.’’
Music to Brady’s ears.
Brown, who’s played with an impressive group of signal-callers — Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, and Philip Rivers — takes pride in his pass protection and pass catching. The former Connecticut star has 120 career catches for 1,066 yards.
“I’m playing with the best of the best,” said Brown. “They all demand a lot, and that’s what I’m all about. I’m here to help any way that I can and I love to play at a high level, and that’s what we’re all here for, to play at a high level, compete at a high level, and win a lot of games.’’
When McCourty was asked what it’s like to not have longtime captain Jerod Mayo around, he smiled and said, “It’s a little more quiet.’’ McCourty said of the recently retired linebacker, “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.’ ” . . . Brown said he leaned on former Patriot Danny Woodhead, with whom he played in San Diego, before signing with the Patriots. “He spoke very highly of this program, so I knew it was a good situation,’’ said Brown . . . McCourty has some pressing non-football items on his agenda. The seven-year veteran is getting married. “Next weekend’s about having fun,” he said. “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.’’
Jim McBride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.