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McCourty's advice to rookies: ‘Just listen’

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  July 28, 2011 12:14 PM

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After making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, cornerback Devin McCourty said he advised rookies to absorb everything, even with just two weeks to do it. (Zuri Berry / Boston.com Staff)

FOXBOROUGH -- Devin McCourty's absurdly successful rookie season was covered yesterday by Amalie Benjamin. The Patriots took him in the first round of the 2010 draft and suddenly he became the starting cornerback when Leigh Bodden went down with shoulder injury last preseason. From there, McCourty completely maxed out the opportunity, starting all 16 games, picking off seven passes, recording 60 tackles and going to the Pro-Bowler as a rookie.

With the lockout wiping out essentially all offseason preparation and cramming it into 15 days, doing it all over again isn't exactly a rinse-wash-repeat process. The key for McCourty last season, he said, was listening to veterans and absorbing as much as possible. With camp opening this morning, he said echoed those instructions to this year's rookies, who are working with short time and high expectations.

How did the workouts last offseason keep you from hitting the rookie wall:
It really just helped me listening to vets. That’s the same thing I’m focused on this year. I still have a great group of veterans around me. Having Leigh Bodden back is going to be big. So just staying listening, trying to get advice from them and just trying to get better through the season and going about offseason stuff, taking care of my body.

Advice to new players without the same time to prepare:
I told a lot of those guys coming in yesterday, ‘Just listen.’ It’s going to be a lot going on around you, but the biggest focus is if you can just listen to every word that all the coaches are saying, all the administrative people are saying, you can start hanging on to stuff and you can start getting better, using all the advantages and all the people we have around us.

How did the uncertainty affect Belichick:
I don’t think he’s worried about it now. We’re back out on the field. We’re trying to get better, being our first time out here today. I think this everything is just focused on going forward now and getting better and preparing for that first preseason game.

Is there a sense of rushing:
Not rushing, but in this game of football there’s always a sense of urgency. When you’re preparing for an opponent, you can’t control what you’re opponent does you can only control yourself. So there’s always a sense of urgency how much better you can get each day.

McCourty took a matter-of-fact approach when it came to evaluating his own conditioning. "I don’t think it matters where I’m at right now," he said. "I’ll just keep trying to progress and get better."

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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