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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Devin McCourty is Patriots’ Walter Payton Award nominee

Devin McCourty (32) and Jason McCourty have been a success on and off the field for the Patriots this season.
Devin McCourty (32) and Jason McCourty have been a success on and off the field for the Patriots this season.(David Banks/AP)

When Devin and Jason McCourty took their first steps to raise awareness about sickle cell by founding the Tackle Sickle Cell campaign, their reasons were personal.

Having an aunt and uncle who suffered from the disease, the cause hit home. But the more the McCourtys learned about the disease, the more they realized its disproportionate effect on black and Hispanic people and how little had been done to shed light.

“The more I looked into it, a lot of minorities have the disease and it just doesn’t get covered. No one really talks about it,” Devin McCourty said.

When they broadened their scope, the McCourtys realized that many of the same issues stretched to social justice. Earlier this year, the McCourtys, alongside Patriots owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft, threw their support behind a bill passed by the Massachusetts Legislature that raised the age in which a minor can enter the juvenile system from 7 years old to 12.

“Topics that I kind of dove into, it was people that often in our country are not cared about really,” McCourty said.

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“No one gives it a second look. It’s kind of overlooked. So it was issues I felt, with my platform, I could jump in and try to highlight and spotlight different people’s stories and let people see them.”

Devin McCourty was among 32 players across the NFL to be honored by the league Thursday as nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, recognizing players for their philanthropy and community impact.

Robert Kraft was on hand Thursday at Gillette Stadium to present Devin McCourty with a trophy.

“He is awesome on the field but [it’s] what he does outside of here that’s so important to our family,” Kraft said.

“What he and his brother have done with sickle cell anemia and also in social justice, how he helped influence legislation to change the law of young people in this state not being able to be incarcerated — it used to be 7 now it’s 12 — he was a major force in making that happen, working with the players coalition on many issues throughout the league. So it’s really a great honor to be able to present Devin with this.”

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While McCourty accepted the honor, he gave credit to his brother as well.

“I don’t think of it as myself,” he said. “You guys know, everything I’ve done — even when he was on another team — was always McCourty twins. Because of rules, they couldn’t put both of our names on it, but without a doubt, every bit of this should be Devin and Jason McCourty.”

Flash warning

Apparently, there can only be one flash in the Patriots locker room, which leaves Josh Gordon and Cordarrelle Patterson with a friendly beef to settle over who has the true rights to the name.

Last week, Patterson made his position clear.

“Josh ain’t faster than me, so I gave him the Reverse Flash,” he said. “He thinks he’s faster than me, but he ain’t. There’s no competing for it. He’s the Reverse Flash. . . . We could race right now.”

This week, Gordon clarified things and said he was fine with racing for it.

“He’s got it mistaken. That’s for sure,” Gordon said. “He’s representing Barry Allen “The Flash” as opposed to Flash Gordon. Different character. He shows his true prowess when it comes to animation and cartoons and stuff like that. But either way, he’s ready, he knows when to come in and race. “

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Jokes aside, Gordon’s been taking advantage of his targets the past two weeks. Since hauling in just four grabs on 12 looks in the Patriots’ Week 10 loss to Tennessee, he’s made eight grabs on eight looks the past two weeks.

“Just remaining focused and locked in on what I want to get done and how I can contribute to my opportunities to do so. Just really making sure I capitalize when those opportunities present themselves and fortunately enough I was able to catch the targets I’ve been given.”

Medical tent

After being listed as limited in Wednesday practice, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were both removed from the Patriots injury report Thursday.

Tight end Dwayne Allen and safety Patrick Chung, however were both listed as limited for the second straight day.


Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.