FOXBOROUGH — Devin McCourty arrived to Gillette Stadium on Saturday morning, unsure of what color jersey would be hanging in his locker.
That’s not unusual.
“You never know what’s happening here,” McCourty said. “You come in, and you just go with what happens.”
But for the first time this training camp, the jersey was blue — not red, designated for non-contact.
That’s a sign of progress for the 25-year-old defensive back, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
“I knew it would be coming off sometime,” McCourty said. “Hopefully I can keep it off.”
The Patriots scrimmaged on Saturday, pitting the top defensive group and most of the top receivers against each other. McCourty intercepted Ryan Mallett on an under-thrown ball into the end zone.
The defensive back was the only position player besides quarterback to wear a non-contact jersey this training camp.
McCourty said he feels “pretty good.” The non-contact jersey didn’t really affect how he played through the first seven practices.
“I got tackled one time in a red jersey,” McCourty said. “So I don’t know how much of a difference it makes.”
McCourty has mostly been working at free safety — a position he converted to midway through last season.
McCourty has taken reps at other positions — on Friday he practiced almost exclusively at corner back — but he warned against reading too much into the switch.
The Patriots’ defense prides itself in versatility. And McCourty said he needs practice working at other positions in case there are injuries or unexpected absences this season.
“I like wherever they put me,” McCourty said. “Right now, to be able to practice in a couple positions always helps you. You can’t take everyone you want into games. You have to play musical chairs out there.”
Switching from position-to-position presents challenges — mainly adjusting to technique.
“I wish I could say it’s as easy as riding a bike,” McCourty said. “You have to be out there, get reps and experience certain things. You can’t just walk out there and be able to play.”
Still, the defensive group seems to enjoy having McCourty at free safety, a position considered the quarterback of the defense.
“He’s a great communicator,” cornerback Kyle Arrington said. “Sometimes I have to tell him to shut up on the field.”