McCourty: Patriots will be united in how they handle Sunday's anthem


McCourty: Patriots will be united in how they handle Sunday's anthem

FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty didn't want to get into detail when asked what the Patriots will do for the national anthem before Sunday's game with the Panthers. He was willing to say, however, that what they do they will do as a team. 

The Patriots had 16 players kneel for the anthem last weekend, while a smattering of others stood and linked arms. McCourty explained it's important to him that next time they be united in their actions.

"I think as players we all care for each other," he said. "We spend a lot of time in this building. You guys see us when other guys have events, no matter what the day is . . . That's not because it's mandatory. That's because we care about each other and we care about the causes that people have.

"I think that just goes to show, when we go and do something, what we do together is we go and play football and we try to do that well together. I think anything that gives us a chance to be together and unified, we want to do that. We want to do it well. I don't think that's ever changed for any player here. We've all tried to respect everybody's wishes as teammates and do what we feel is best for the team, each player in that locker room."


Danny Amendola told reporters on Wednesday that, as far as he understood it, players would be standing together for the anthem.

Other players have indicated that having a unified look on the sidelines before the Texans game would have been ideal, but the timing of Donald Trump's speech last week didn't allow for much in the way of planning. There was a group of Patriots players who spoke Saturday about their reactions to Trump's Friday night speech, but unlike the Seahawks (who spent hours discussing their anthem plan on Saturday and Sunday, according to The MMQB's Peter King) or the Steelers (who King said "debated what to do at length Saturday"), they did not spend a large chunk of the weekend going back and forth on what to do. One Patriots player described what happened during the anthem last week as "kind of a heat-of-the-moment thing."

It seems as though now that the Patriots are all on the same page as far as how they'll handle what happens before the game on Sunday. 

"I think the good things for us as a team, players-wise, we wanted to meet and we wanted to be united as players," McCourty said. "I think that is the key thing. That's what we've done. We met as players and we've decided what we're going to do. I think that is the beauty of this game, us as players, when we have issues . . . it's up to us. We decided as players what we'll do moving forward and we'll try to stick to that."

McCourty is a team captain and the player who has publicly spoken the most about the topic in the Patriots locker room. He said the reaction he's heard from people since Sunday's game has run the gamut.

"Everything," he said. "I'm sure whatever you guys see is the same things we see. It's ranged from far left to far right and everything in between."

McCourty and Matthew Slater joined Patriots owner Robert Kraft on a trip to New York in order to discuss the anthem with other players, owners and commissioner Roger Goodell. Despite the uniqueness of that sit-down, McCourty said he doesn't view the ongoing onversation and everything that comes with it as a distraction. 

"I don't see this as a distraction because it's important to me," McCourty said. "It's like anything else. I've never been in a season where I only do football. I do a ton of work on sickle cell [disease] and try to work in the community so it's always been a balance. I think that is always key for us as football players. I could play my last game on Sunday and life doesn't stop. I always try to keep that balance. To me, this is another part of that balance."


Doctors believe Carson Wentz has torn ACL


Doctors believe Carson Wentz has torn ACL

LOS ANGELES - Two sources familiar with the injury tell The Associated Press that doctors believe Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in a win over the Rams on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season and playoffs.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, will have an MRI on Monday to confirm the severity of the injury. Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information. Wentz left the stadium on a cart with a brace on his left leg.

"I don't know anything until we evaluate him (Monday)," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said.

Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter of Philadelphia's 43-35 comeback win at Los Angeles . Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a win that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

"Everyone is really excited about the win but you have your starting quarterback go down, it's emotional," Foles said. "It's emotional for me. I work with him every day so I'm dealing with that."

Wentz was hit hard as he scrambled into the end zone on a play that was called back because of holding. He stayed in the game and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery four plays later , setting the franchise record for most TD passes in a season with 33.

"It shows how tough he is," Pederson said.

Foles replaced Wentz the next drive after the Rams took a 35-31 lead. He led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives. Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback.

Wentz arrived in Philadelphia as the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft out of North Dakota State. On Sunday, he dueled with Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in that draft.

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this season. He passed for 3,296 yards and only seven interceptions to go with those 33 TDs.

Despite the injury, Wentz stayed in the locker room to greet teammates after the victory over the Rams (9-4).

After the game, Wentz's left knee was wrapped in a brace. He was driven in a cart up the tunnel at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and then hobbled to one of the team buses

"He's one of the leaders on the team. He was there congratulating and celebrating with everyone," Foles said.

Foles, a third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, is in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said. "I prepare every day."