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 on Monday morning, after visiting with some young students.
McCourty read to students at Arlington Elementary School to help kick off Reading Week, and entertained the kids and teachers with his energetic approach.
He chatted with reporters after, and was asked about the status of his right shoulder, which required minor surgery.
“It’s going pretty good. 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 said, adding that he’s been working with the staff in Foxborough.
McCourty is looking forward to working with Wilson, who spent 12 years with the Cardinals and was a five-time Pro Bowler there 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 (Kyle Jr.) 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 on 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 will happen. [Dennard faces up to five years in jail for his conviction, though generally such cases in Nebraska 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 alright. Those things don’t affect him.”
McCourty has been outspoken about the events surrounding now 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 evidence of his behavior toward players, which included throwing basketballs at their head and admonishing them with homophobic slurs and other obscenities.
“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. Especially I think athletic directors always did a great job with the students there. But he did a great job. 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. 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,” he said.
When he was in high school, McCourty was 5-foot-9 but 120 pounds he told the kids, and had some people saying he wouldn’t get to the NFL.
“That’s why I always try to tell them to believe in themselves because I can remember teachers’ names, different times in my life where people, I felt like they were talking to the class and, specifically, they were talking to me. So I just always try to encourage them, no matter what you do, believing in yourself will always be the number one thing,” McCourty said.