Devin McCourty isn’t about to tease Tom Brady about Deflategate. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
FOXBORO — There are things veteran players can do to other veteran players, especially at the beginning of training camp, to keep things loose and break up the monotony of training camp.
Busting Tom Brady about Deflategate is not on the list for Devin McCourty.
The Patriots seven-year veteran safety, sporting a Captain America “Trust Me” t-shirt at the podium, was asked Wednesday, the day before the first practice, if he might joke around with No. 12 about him having to sit out the first four games.
“No, the first day, I don’t think we talk about anything to do with football,” McCourty said. “I think it’s just guys catching up, seeing how families are doing and everything like that. But I doubt there would be much joking about that.”
Indeed, the Patriots were all business on Wednesday, as coaches held positional meetings with players on the eve of the first practice of camp.
The business of getting along without Tom Brady for the first four games was front and center, with players like McCourty and Matthew Slater the first to speak since Brady lost his appeal and decided to not pursue any further litigation.
“I think it’s [an] adjustment. Obviously, you can’t take the field without a guy like that and think you’re just going to go out there and pick up where you left off last year and fall right into stride, but I think we have a lot of good players,” McCourty said. “We have two other quarterbacks that have been very competitive. Jimmy [Garoppolo] has been here a couple of years now, so I think as a team we’ll just come together, go out there and figure out a way to win. That’s what it comes down to; we can’t stick on that subject, just prepare and get ready to play.”
Slater repeated the “adjustment” theme.
“It’s obviously going to be an adjustment,” Slater said. “We’re definitely thankful that he’s around now, and I think he brings so much to the table. There’s so much that we can learn from having him around, and obviously we all want to have a good training camp, it’s the foundation upon which the season is built, so I think he would definitely include himself in that group. Needless to say, there will definitely be an adjustment period for us in dealing with that, but we’re just going to take it one day at a time.”
Is the defense feeling more pressure to start strong, knowing the team will begin the season without Tom Brady leading the offense?
“I think from the outside, everyone will say that, but for us as a defense, even when you play with the greatest quarterback, we don’t go out there saying, ‘We only have to play OK because Tom [Brady] is here.’ We always want to play good football, go out there and really find out who we’ll be as a defense,” McCourty said. “It starts [Thursday] at practice with attitude, toughness, running to the ball, condition. I think for us as a defense, we want to be a dominating defense no matter what the situation is and no matter who is out there on offense. We always kind of take the mentality and attitude that we have to go out there and play defense no matter if the offense is scoring touchdowns, if they’re not scoring touchdowns. I think if we can develop as individual units, that’s what makes us better as a whole.”