PHILADELPHIA -- Devin McCourty has been a team captain for two seasons, and as a safety, he is essentially the quarterback of the defense. He said Wednesday afternoon that he likes what he's seen from his group so far in Philadelphia.
"Just competing," he said. "I think we like this challenge. You come in, you get to practice against another team. You know, in training camp, going against the same guys every day, you’re going against your teammate, so when we get a chance to come out here and practice against another team, we really take that as a challenge.
"Each day is kind of like a mini-game for us. It’s not a game, but coaches evaluate this a little more and you really have to come out and try to prove yourself. As a defense, we came out with a chip on our shoulder and just played hard and competed."
Asked why the D had a chip on its shoulder, McCourty said, "I think as a defense you have to. You have to come in and try to dominate and be that defense. If you want to do that for the season, you can’t try to turn it on when you want, you have to have that attitude and come out and play with it each day you come out and practice, against our offense, another team.
"We’re trying to establish that now for the season."
There are some new faces on the defense, as there always are, but the core group remains much the same -- all but one of the players who started the AFC Championship game (Kyle Love) are back -- with veterans Adrian Wilson and Tommy Kelly added, as well as some promising rookies.
McCourty is looking for the unit to take the next step.
"We expect more as a group," he said. "We don’t come and think, ‘It’s a fresh start.’ We know we have some type of foundation and it’s up to us.
"We’ve got to push ourselves. We can’t allow ourselves to make simple mistakes out here. We’re not a first-year unit out there, and even the new guys are older guys like Adrian.
"I think one of the greatest things, our rookies have come in and picked it up and jumped right in stride with us. We expect a lot of our group, and that’s how we’ve been practicing."
The Rutgers product, now one of nine former Scarlet Knights on the current roster, of course said he's especially proud of his young teammates, who were freshmen when McCourty was a senior. He boasted of their smarts and how quickly they've been able to come in and pick things up.
On Wednesday, the defense was especially spirited on the sideline as Tom Brady and the offense picked apart the Eagles defense, running the no-huddle in 11-on-11 work. After a Kenbrell Thompkins catch just short of the end zone, Aqib Talib ran toward the play, excited to see the rookie make a big play.
No one had more fun than Talib during the session, as he was talking noise to Philadelphia players throughout.
"He’s passionate," McCourty said with a smile when asked if Talib is nuts. "He’s very passionate, and I love that about him.
"Our secondary, we have different characters all throughout the secondary and each person brings their own uniqueness to it, and as a group, I feel like we’re complete when we have everyone in there."