CRANSTON, R.I. — Defensive back Devin McCourty sounded excited to start working with Adrian Wilson, the veteran free agent safety the Patriots signed last month, and said his rehab from shoulder surgery is going well.
McCourty read to students at Arlington Elementary School Monday morning to help kick off Reading Week, entertaining the kids and teachers with his energetic approach. He chatted with reporters after that, and was asked about the status of his right shoulder, which required minor surgery.
“It’s going pretty good,” said McCourty. “Just rehabbing day-by-day and taking it one step at a time. It’s a process I’m learning and I’m just going through it and listening to the trainers.”
McCourty is looking forward to working with Wilson, who spent 12 years with Arizona and was a five-time Pro Bowler before being released for salary-cap reasons last month.
“I’m going to love having Adrian Wilson here, just because since I’ve been here, we haven’t had that one 10-year vet [in the secondary] or that guy that’s played a long time and been productive,” McCourty said. “I think the closest thing we had like that was my rookie year when we had guys like [Brandon] Meriweather, James Sanders, and Leigh Bodden.
“It will be cool just to have that veteran presence in our locker room and our defensive back room, so I’m looking forward to learning a lot from him.”
He is also pleased to see cornerback Aqib Talib return for another season, and thrilled for close friend Kyle Arrington, who signed a four-year contract with New England.
“It was great, and the way it happened, with him signing a new deal and his son being born, I think that’s why you love playing this game — hopefully that you can take care of your family, and then to start your own family, I was very happy for him,” McCourty said. “I went to visit him and the baby and he’s doing well. It’s a good time for him.”
Of teammate Alfonzo Dennard, who will be sentenced Thursday in Lincoln, Neb., after being found guilty of felony assault on a police officer, McCourty has tried to show support and offered to help with whatever Dennard might need, but said the cornerback seems ready for whatever happens. Dennard faces up to five years in jail, though such cases in Nebraska generally draw a 90- to 180-day sentence.
Though McCourty didn’t know the most recent details on Rob Gronkowski’s recovery, he jokingly said the tight end “isn’t human. He’ll be all right. Those things don’t affect him.”
McCourty has been outspoken about the events surrounding former basketball coach Mike Rice and particularly athletic director Tim Pernetti at his alma mater, Rutgers.
He feels school administrators had Pernetti take the fall for Rice keeping his job after video surfaced of Rice throwing basketballs at players and admonishing them with homophobic slurs and obscenities.
On his public Facebook page, McCourty referred to Rutgers president Robert Barchi as a “clown . . . who still hasn’t taken ownership in his role.” Barchi reportedly saw the videotape of Rice’s actions last year and signed off on a three-game suspension for the coach instead of a harsher punishment.
“It was just such a shock,” McCourty said. “My initial reaction, I think I was just kind of hurt when I saw a guy like Tim Pernetti, who I thought did an amazing job when he got to Rutgers. He would reach out to all the former athletes and get us back to do different events, and not just in football, but you would meet women from women’s soccer and lacrosse and they would be back as well.
“Just to see all that transpire, it really hurt, and to see what happened with him. But at the end of the day, I just wanted him to know that we fully supported him. So a lot of student-athletes believed in him and I respect him now. He took the fall by resigning and put it all on him and it was for the betterment for the university, so I have a great deal of respect for what he did.”
McCourty appeared to truly enjoy his visit with the students at Arlington Elementary, and encouraged them to believe in themselves and their dreams.
“It’s always a good time when you can be a kid again,” he said. “I love doing these things and camps and stuff. Kids just have energy, and if you show them a little energy, they go through the roof. I just try to come in and be energetic and have fun with it.
“I just always try to encourage them, no matter what you do, believing in yourself will always be the No. 1 thing.”
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The Patriots agreed to a two-year contract with defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, 32, a nine-year veteran who had played his entire career with the Oakland Raiders before being a salary-cap cut March 27. Kelly started all 16 games last year, compiling 45 tackles and a sack. He has 289 career tackles and 34 sacks, along with 16 passes defensed.