Devin McCourty’s advice to rookies: ‘They’re going to make mistakes. Just play hard’
FOXBOROUGH — With the temperature at 86 degrees Wednesday, Patriots players took their positions for their final practice before the first preseason game against the Redskins the following night. When rain began pouring down at Gillette Stadium, only the media personnel scrambled to tents with their laptops and other equipment; the Patriots remained unfazed.
Cyrus Jones still fielded punts, newly signed receiver Eric Decker continued to play catch on the sideline, and the quarterback trio of Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, and rookie Danny Etling shared reps.
“We’re usually the guys that check the weather, so today was a little bit of a shocker — we didn’t see that in the forecast,” said defensive back Devin McCourty. “I think the guys here are used to the weather and still stay in it.
“Once it started raining, no one said anything. We kept practicing. I talked to my brother [Jason McCourty], he said, ‘Man, I’ve been on teams where we go to the bubble as soon as this happens.’ Here, no one thinks that because we never do it.”
McCourty, a nine-year veteran, has taken the initiative to guide the Patriots’ seven defensive rookies before their first professional football game.
“I just tell them at the end of the day to remember it’s football,” said McCourty. “They’ve put in a lot of effort so far into the preseason and training camp preparing. We’ve gone over a ton of different stuff.
“I try to tell them at the end of the day, they’re rookies, they’re going to make mistakes. Just play hard, and at the end of the day you’re doing something you’ve done for a long time.”
The rookies weren’t the only players stepping on the field Thursday night for the first time as Patriots. Decker was in the same position, after signing a one-year contract last week.
“I’ve played against him numerous times,” said McCourty. “He’s a guy that always seems prepared. He’s a bigger receiver. So it would be good to see him do the things I’ve seen him do on other teams in his career.”
With their first preseason game this week, and the season opener against the Houston Texans a month away, the Super Bowl isn’t at the forefront of the Patriots’ minds.
“Super Bowl? That’s far from now,” said McCourty. “We just need to focus on being able to play in a game and compete. We don’t know those things yet to be worried about it. We’re going out there and starting from the bottom. We have to go out there and see ourselves. We don’t know how we look.”
Rain or shine, the Patriots are taking it one day at a time.