Ty Law

Devin McCourty becomes first Patriots player since Ty Law with five interceptions in first seven games

Devin McCourty becomes first Patriots player since Ty Law with five interceptions in first seven games

Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins got into the Jets backfield untouched, quarterback Sam Darnold panicked and immediately threw it toward slot receiver Jamison Crowder. The pass was wildly overthrown, and Devin McCourty came down with his fifth interception of the 2019 season. 

With his latest pick, McCourty became the first Patriots player since Ty Law in 1998 to record five interceptions in his first seven games of a season, according to NFL Research.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer finished the 1998 season with a league-leading nine interceptions to earn himself a First-Team All-Pro selection. If McCourty keeps up his level of play at the safety position for this dominant Patriots defense, it'd be hard for him not to secure a similar honor at season's end. 

The New England defense will probably feature multiple All-Pro selections when it's all said and done for 2019, but are there any Defensive Player of the Year candidates in this unit? Perhaps McCourty is their best shot. 

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After hanging with Hall of Famers, Stephon Gilmore could be headed that way

After hanging with Hall of Famers, Stephon Gilmore could be headed that way

NASHVILLE — You should have seen the scene at Ty Law’s post-induction party a couple of weeks back.

It was a who’s who of great cornerbacks — Law, his University of Michigan buddy Charles Woodson, fellow Aliquippa native Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey, who was inducted that night as well.

They were congregated near the buffet line at Brookside Country Club, just talking and laughing, all the great No. 24s.

Not far away stood Stephon Gilmore. Quiet, as is his custom, hanging with Devin McCourty and just taking things in.

And it was impossible to avoid making the connection between all those 24s who retired as legends and wonder if legendary status is in store for this No. 24, too. If Gilmore picks up where he left off last season — and the 28-year-old appears to be doing that — it’s not hard to envision.

But somehow the reigning best corner in football still seems a bit overlooked.

Wednesday in Nashville, rep after rep in drills, play after play in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11, Gilmore was just doing his thing in the smooth, effortless way he always does. Covering up wideouts so completely that it’s almost a waste for a quarterback to bother trying to squeeze one into Gilmore’s area.

After practice, as media circled players from both teams, Gilmore ambled off the field alone.

I asked him about seeing all those great corners in one place a couple of weeks back.

“Those were a lot of the guys that I looked up to and who played the game at a high level for a long time,” said Gilmore. “Those were some of the best corners to ever play the game. I still watch their old stuff. Try to learn from it as much as I can.

“That was pretty cool to see them all there,” he added. “I’ve worn 24 since I was a little kid, from seeing Ty and Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson. When I got here I wanted to have that number and represent the best that I can.”

I asked him whose style was most similar to his. There was a long hesitation.

“Revis?” I offered.

“I think I may be a little faster than he was,” Gilmore said. “Maybe Champ Bailey. Similar body types.”

Gilmore then returned to pleasant silence, awaiting the next question.

Gilmore gives up very little. With Law, you could ask a question, hit record, leave the room, come back 10 minutes later and he’d still be talking. A lot of great corners were like that. Confident to the point of cocky and that never hurts a player’s brand or Q rating.

Gilmore just plainly doesn’t go in for that stuff. He’s not evasive. He’s not unwilling to converse. He’s just a very reserved person. Maybe that’s part of the reason he’s underappreciated.

I ask about the Patriots defense as a whole, wondering if it can be even better this year than it was in 2018 when it closed the season with a dominant Super Bowl performance.

“We’ll see. We’ll see,” he said. “We have to go out and prove ourselves. Nobody cares about last year, nobody cares about projections. We have to prove ourselves every day.”

I ask about the Titans and the work that went on Wednesday.

“It’s good to go against someone different, a different offense,” he said. “You get used to going against our guys so much that it’s good to come out and go against something different and try to work on technique and rely on that to make plays."

I ask about the feeling of satisfaction he may have felt after last year and whether he reflected on it — being named All-Pro, coming down with a key pick that helped seal the Super Bowl.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play for this organization,” he said. “Coming from where I came from [Buffalo, where he spent his first four seasons], not much winning, then coming here and trying to earn everyone’s respect and trust. We have a lot of good players on this team that allow me to play my game the way I want to play it. I’m blessed to be in this situation and I’d never take it for granted.”

Flailing. I went to the old standby dumb reporter question, a muddled query about how he feels when opponents make plays on him. (What’s he going to say? That he’s delighted?)

“I hate it,” he said. “Someone caught one on me in 1-on-1s, I was mad. Pissed off. Even in walkthroughs, I still don’t want the ball completed on me. But you have to move on and I believe that’s something I’m good at. Moving on to the next play.”

With that, I shook the hand of the best corner in football and wished him good luck and good health. He smiled and walked away. He gave me nothing.  And now I know how Stephon Gilmore makes quarterbacks feel.

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Bill Belichick reunites with former Patriots greats for Ty Law induction

Bill Belichick reunites with former Patriots greats for Ty Law induction

Ty Law was the first member of the Patriots' three Super Bowl-winning teams in 2001, 2003, and 2004 to get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Throughout the Hall of Fame election process, Law was adamant about crediting his teammates with his success. He even lobbied for more of them to join him in Canton moving forward. Though Law was referring to his teammates joining him as members of the Hall of Fame, the Patriots of the early-aughts did come to Canton in droves to support their teammate for his enshrinement.

For Patriots fans, the induction ceremony was certainly something to behold. Not just because of Law's achievement, but because of the sheer number of Patriots legends that were on hand.

Of course, Bill Belichick was there, as the Patriots were planning to stop in at the Hall of Fame on their way to their Thursday-night preseason game with the Detroit Lions. He was seen chatting with Richard Seymour, one of Law's teammates who was also a Hall of Fame finalist this past February. While Seymour didn't get the nod, he did get some recognition from inductee Kevin Mawae, who said that he hated playing against Seymour.

Another encouraging sight for Patriots fans during the ceremony was that Devin McCourty was spotted talking to Lawyer Milloy. The former Patriot was once one of the league's best safeties, making four Pro Bowls and notching one All-Pro nod during his time with the Patriots. Perhaps McCourty was picking the 15-year veteran's brain about how to continue to improve as he enters his 10th season with the Patriots.

More Patriots legends on hand included Troy Brown, Deion Branch, Roman Phifer, Bobby Hamilton, Willie McGinest, and Stephon Gilmore, who Law said could be "next up" for the Hall of Fame at cornerback. Patriots fans will be hoping that is a ways off, as the team needs the league's best cornerback on the field in 2019.

To see more exclusive backstage footage of the Hall of Fame ceremony, check out the video above or click here.

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