Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Sunday, August 22, 2010
McCourty flashes unique skills

By Mike Reiss

One play from the Patriots' preseason victory over the Falcons stood out. It was a "ho-hum" play on the stat sheet, a Michael Turner 2-yard run in the first quarter, but in this opinion it reflected what makes first-round draft choice Devin McCourty the type of cornerback Bill Belichick targets when available.

To sum it up in simple terms, the Falcons lined up in a tight formation and there was no receiver split wide for McCourty to cover on the defensive left side. The handoff came to the bulldozing Turner off right tackle, and McCourty nicely read the play, surged forward into the hole, and assisted on the tackle with defensive lineman Gerard Warren.

One of the scouting reports on McCourty was that he is a more physical corner, a willing tackler, and this play was a perfect example of it. Most corners would be rocked back on a similar play, even if they were even willing to fill that gap assignment with such purpose.

Not McCourty. No matter that he is 5-foot-10 and 193 pounds and Turner is 5-foot-10, 244 pounds.

Belichick generally likes corners who are strong in run support, and McCourty was considered by some teams as the best run-support corner in the draft. If he keeps making plays like that, in addition to playing the ball as well as he has in coverage, it's going to be hard for the coaching staff to remove him from the lineup.