Patriots

Safety or cornerback? McCourty's 'just gotta play'

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Safety or cornerback? McCourty's 'just gotta play'

After a week spent almost exclusively working at right cornerback, Devin McCourty played there on Saturday night in New Orleans to mostly negative reviews, including one from himself.

“It didn’t feel great, and I don’t think it looked great so we’ll see,” said McCourty in the aftermath at the Superdome.

Today, during the open locker room period, I asked McCourty if his frustration over Saturday had waned, and if he felt more comfortable with his role after talking with the coaches.

“Just gotta play,’ said McCourty matter-of-factly. “As a player, you just gotta go play football. Obviously a new week, gotta prepare and get ready to go for a new challenge this week. That’s all I can do.”

But does McCourty hope the new challenge is the “old” challenge of playing safety again?

“We’ll see,” answered McCourty with a smile and a laugh. “We’ll have to see.”

McCourty made the transition from Pro Bowl cornerback as a rookie to safety during the 2012 season and settled there permanently in that role to start 2013. He signed a new contract this offseason for $47.5 million dollars over five years. That made the former Rutgers product the highest paid player at the position.

Injury report: Branch out, 10 Patriots questionable

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Injury report: Branch out, 10 Patriots questionable

The Patriots final injury report before their showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday includes 10 players listed as questionable and defensive lineman Alan Branch ruled out.

Branch, who hurt his knee in the Monday night loss to the Dolphins, missed three days of practice this week. Among the questionable are linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive lineman Trey Flowers, who didn't play against Miami. Tom Brady (Achilles), Brandon Cooks (hand) and Malcolm Butler (ankle) have been removed from the injury report. 

Cornerback Joe Haden (fibula) and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) among the Steelers listed as questionable. The full injury report:

Gronkowski quickly puts suspension behind him

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Gronkowski quickly puts suspension behind him

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski was not focused on the past or a lengthy press conference Friday. 

Speaking with the media for the first time since being handed a one-game suspension for his hit on Tre’Davious White two weeks ago, Gronkowski spoke for less than 2 1/2 minutes before declaring, “I’m out” and leaving the podium. 

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“I definitely learned about it, but I’m not really here right now [to talk about that],” Gronkowski said. “With the game Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m just putting my focus on them right now. Definitely learned from the mistake that I made, for sure a couple weeks ago, the last game I played in, but we’ve got a huge game this Sunday. We’ve got a huge game as a team this Sunday, so I’m just putting all my focus into the Steelers this week.” 

The veteran tight end said that he was glad to be back practicing and playing, but tried to shift the conversation back to the Steelers when asked about the suspension. He declined to share whether he reached out to White after the late hit. 

Gronkowski’s return will be a welcomed sight for a Patriots offense that struggled last week without him. Tom Brady played his worst game of the season, completing 24 of 43 passes for 233 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in New England’s loss to the Dolphins.