Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/24/12
Devin McCourty may not be the shutdown cornerback many anticipated after a Pro Bowl rookie season. But he's still a damn good defensive back. McCourty was forced back into the safety role in the Patriots' secondary on Sunday, a position played at times toward the end of the 2011 season. But even with some prior knowledge, McCourty is still very inexperienced in that position. "I haven't had a lot of snaps at it," McCourty admitted on Wednesday. "So it will still be a learning process." Learning a new position can't be easy, especially for a player who has spent the last seven seasons -- including college -- in coverage on the outside. New techniques, new adjustments and new responsibilities can all be severely overwhelming for a young player. But that's where McCourty sought the guidance of some veterans. "I lean a lot on our coaches and guys like Steve [Gregory] and Pat [Chung], who weren't able to play last week, but I listen to those guys a lot," McCourty said of transitioning to safety. "And I just try to use my knowledge of the defense to help me out and know different things to do back there." The direction from Chung and Gregory obviously helped on Sunday against the Jets as McCourty looked comfortable in the deep spot and the secondary actually seemed to be more secure; at least Bill Belichick thought so. "I thought the deep part of the field was more secure than it’s been," Belichick said after Sunday's 29-26 win. McCourty has found some inherent differences from his normal cornerback role while learning the new position. But nothing he's been unable to adjust to. "You just get to see it from a different vantage point, and you get to see the whole field different than playing corner. The biggest thing is you just have to have a different level of responsibility as far as making sure everyone is lined up, making sure everyone is playing the same coverage." While there have been complications in the transition, McCourty hasn't found much of a difference in his preparation each week. He's said he watches the same film and keeps the same understanding of what he's looking for in the offense. But even with the difficulties associated with the switch, McCourty has seemed to find some satisfaction in the responsibility that comes along with playing safety. "[I'm] trying to be more vocal, trying to be more aware of different things. How I can help the other guys out on the field, because the safeties have the best view on the field," McCourty said. "They have enough space between them and the offense and can see the whole field. So, just trying to let other guys know what I saw back there and help the defense." Under McCourty's leadership, and hopefully with the return of Chung alongside him this weekend, this secondary might just be salvageable after all. There is a lot of talent in the Patriots' defensive backfield, and if guys like McCourty are embracing the challenge, then there may just be hope yet. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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