Devin McCourty came into the NFL as a cornerback six years ago, but he eventually transitioned to playing safety. And that’s where he wants to stay.
“It’s up to the coaches,’’ McCourty said Thursday after OTAs when asked if he’d be willing to move to corner if the need arises. “I want to play safety, but it’s out of my control so whatever the coaches decide is what it will have to be.’’
When McCourty was asked if the option had been discussed, he said “You’ve got to ask the coaches about that. I’m not in the staff meetings.’’
The question of need at the position has been raised because cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Alfonzo Dennard, and Kyle Arrington are no longer on the roster heading into the 2015 season.
“I feel like it’s just another year in the NFL,’’ McCourty said. “Maybe not always four cornerbacks leave but there’s usually some type of turnover. Now it’s hard work trying to get ready, get your team back to the status you ended last season with, which is very hard, just to get back to the way we were playing as a unit is going to be hard, but we’re working towards that.’’
With the four veteran corners gone, that leaves Logan Ryan and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler as returning corners to go along with newcomers Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain. The Patriots also drafted cornerback Darryl Roberts out of Marshall.
In a Bill Belichick defense, McCourty could also find himself playing a position somewhere in between a corner and a safety in some sets.
“I think for us we do so many different things defensively, game-plan wise,’’ McCourty said. “Right now, it’s not as much since we’re not game planning for an offense. Whether you want to call it a safety playing a linebacker role, a corner playing a safety role or a safety playing a corner, depending on a match-up or how we want to play a team, yeah all that can happen.
“That’s what’s good about this time of year. You know we’re just running defense and guys are playing positions and going out there competing. That helps us as we get into the season.’’
McCourty said that whether the same group returns or there’s an influx of new bodies, the competition is always tough in the weeks leading into training camp.
“This time of year, it’s always highly competitive,’’ McCourty said. “Even last year, you bring in a bunch of new guys that were great players. It was still really competitive. Everyone wants to play. I think that’s the great thing about having top-notch athletes. Everyone wants to play. I think the main thing, whenever you get a veteran, they always want to know how we want to play different things. Guys that have played football at other places, there are so many different ways to play different route combinations, stacks, bunches.
“So, it always, ‘What do you see here? How do you want to play this? How do you guys usually play it. It’s just repetition. The more we talk about it, the more we see it in practice, the more we see it in the film room, everyone gets familiar. The next thing you know, everyone will see things the same way.’’
Patriots first round picks in the Bill Belichick era