Devin McCourty has yet to be hit with a penalty this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO — Among the several notable things worth mentioning about the season safety Devin McCourty is enjoying is the fact that he’s the only Patriots player on either side of the ball who has played at least 700 snaps who has yet to be flagged for a penalty.
McCourty has played 711 snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and has yet to be penalized. He’s only one of a handful of New England regulars who has yet to be penalized this season, a group that includes veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (no flags in 584 snaps) and running back Shane Vereen (no penalties in 439 snaps).
“I don’t even know if it’s a good thing — I should probably have some,” he said with a sheepish smile this week. “But I don’t know. There are different things they ask me to do in this defense — sometimes, I’m in the middle of the field and I’m not in man-to-man coverage, and that probably takes away some of the chances. I think when you’re playing safety, and you’re just focused so much on the quarterback and playing the ball, that takes away some penalties.
“But I have no straight answer — I didn’t know that,” he added with a grin. “I didn’t come prepared to answer that question.”
Ina year where flags are up across the league, the idea that someone could play as much as McCourty and not have drawn a flag is impressive. However, to McCourty’s point, there are several safeties across the league who have played 700-plus snaps this season and have yet to be flagged — McCourty is part of a group that includes Seattle’s Earl Thomas, San Francisco’s Antoine Bethea, Cleveland’s Donte Whitner and Denver’s Rahim Moore.
In a year where the Patriots have occasionally struggled with penalties, McCourty acknowledged it’s a point of emphasis for the team as a while moving forward.
“I think that’s really the focus for us now as a unit — just making sure we have less penalties as a group,” he said. “That gives us a better chance to win football games.”