Patriots

McCourty could provide Patriots depth at CB with Brown out

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McCourty could provide Patriots depth at CB with Brown out

FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty is a safety. 

It has been his position since he transitioned there during the 2012 season. He was named a Second-Team All-Pro as a safety in 2013, and it was from that spot in 2014 that he helped turn a talented but newly-assembled secondary into a Super Bowl champion. He's also paid like a top-of-the-market safety after re-signing with the Patriots this offseason for a deal worth $47.5 million over five years. 

But might McCourty be asked to play cornerback sometime in the very near future for the Patriots? Perhaps. 

With corner Tarell Brown ruled out for Sunday's game with the Colts due to a foot injury, the Patriots will have to come up with a contingency plan built around their relatively small cornerback group.

After Malcolm Butler (271 snaps this season), Brown (163 snaps) is the Patriots corner who has seen the most playing time despite sitting out of a Week 3 win over the Jaguars. Without him, the Patriots will likely lean heavily on third-year corner Logan Ryan and undrafted rookie Justin Coleman. The team could also turn to waiver-wire addition Rashaan Melvin, who arrived to Gillette Stadium on Wednesday and has two practices under his belt with his new team. 

McCourty gives the team a potential fifth option at corner. The former first-round pick came into the league as a cornerback and earned Second-Team All-Pro honors there as a rookie in 2010. He saw practice reps at corner during training camp this summer and played as a corner against the Saints in New England's second preseason game.

At the time, he said he hoped it wasn't a permanent move, and it wasn't. He's been at safety ever since that game at the Superdome. 

However, when the Patriots experimented with McCourty at corner in camp, coach Bill Belichick explained that getting McCourty some work at a different position was a way to provide the team with depth. Belichick was, essentially, preparing McCourty and the rest of the secondary for an unforeseen emergency. 

Brown's absence for a Week 6 game against the Colts and their deep group of receivers may qualify as an unforeseen emergency. 

McCourty said on Friday that it would be hard to predict how comfortable he would be at corner if he was asked to play there in Indianapolis on Sunday night. 

"You won't know until you get out there," he said. "Obviously, it's good to get work, but football players are like anybody else. Something you do months ago doesn't always just translate like it's riding a bike. That's just not true. You go out there and you just play. But I'm like anybody else -- anybody that switches or does something a little different. You're good at what you're good at. Other things, you just continue to work through it."
 
McCourty did not get into whether or not he has practiced at corner this week. He insisted that even if he had, his game-day comfort level there would be impossible to gauge until the bright lights were on.
 
"I only count game reps," he said. "No matter what happens, it's different. When you're out there for a game, it's completely different. When you're out there guarding someone and they're game-planning and trying to win, it's completely different."

Patriots reportedly almost traded for Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason

Patriots reportedly almost traded for Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason

Heading into the offseason after yet another Super Bowl win, one of the biggest areas of concerns for the Patriots is wide receiver. 

There were similar concerns this time last season. The team eventually shored up the position by trading for Cordarrelle Patterson and Josh Gordon, but Patterson is a free agent and Gordon's return to the team is still up in the air. 

Neither move might've happened if the Patriots had succeeded in their pursuit of one star player in 2018. 

On Pro Football Talk Live, Chris Simms reported that the Patriots were frontrunners to land star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. when the Giants were shopping him last offseason. 

"From everything I know, from multiple sources, the thing that stopped the trade conversation with Odell Beckham Jr. is because the team that was most aggressive in pursuing him was the New England Patriots. The New England Patriots were trying to get Odell Beckham Jr. all last offseason." 

MORE PATRIOTS

If the trade went through, last season might've turned out quite differently for New England. Beckham Jr. would have been the most talented wideout Tom Brady had thrown to in years. Gordon put up 737 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games with the Patriots. What kind of numbers could Beckham Jr. have put up if he was catching passes from Brady over the course of a full season?

With receiver remaining a weak spot in New England and continued rumors that the Giants may move on from Beckham Jr. sooner rather than later, the Patriots may have another chance. He isn't a typical Patriot with his hefty contract and constant presence in the media, but Bill Belichick is trying to maximize the last leg of Brady's career. No one can predict what he's up to in Foxboro. 

Time will only tell if the Pats take another swing at the supremely talented receiver. 

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PFF ranks Trent Brown, Marcus Cannon two of the best tackles in AFC East

PFF ranks Trent Brown, Marcus Cannon two of the best tackles in AFC East

New England's offensive line was a large part of the reason they won the Super Bowl; they managed to keep Brady upright despite facing talented pass-rushers in every playoff game, all while running roughshod over their opponents. 

Two cornerstones of their success came in the form of the two big tackles, Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon. While they weren't quite as dominant during the regular season, they still managed to rank as two of the best five tackles in the AFC East, with Cannon coming out as the best in the division according to PFF's rankings. 

Brown, an unrestricted free agent, was a key offseason addition for the Pats, who managed to acquire him from San Francisco for merely a fifth-round pick. Unfortunately, Brown's play may have priced him out of the Patriots' range, but they have his likely successor in the wings in the form of Isaiah Wynn. 

AREAS OF CHANGE

Cannon managed to stay on the field this year after finishing the previous season on the IR, playing in 13 games. He was excellent when he did play, and was a big part in shutting down the edge rushers of the Chargers and Chiefs in January. 

Brown may be gone by the time training camp rolls around, but Cannon is in the midst of a five-year deal, and will be the team's starting right tackle for the next few years, barring any injuries. If he can keep up his excellent play while remaining healthy enough for the playoffs, New England won't have to worry about the right side of the line for years to come. 

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