Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wilson!: Patriots casting for McCourty's sidekick


Devin McCourty has etched himself a pretty solid role in the center field of the New England Patriots' defense, but for now, he stands alone.

The Patriots' coaches will sift through an offseason's worth of work to determine McCourty's starting safety partner, and their newfound depth at the position will make the job hunt competitive. (photo: Beth Hart, Flickr)

At first glance, Adrian Wilson looks like the leader in the clubhouse, as the former Arizona Cardinal and seasoned veteran is still playing at a high level as of last season. But a youngster or two could instead sneak into a first-team gig.

"[Wilson will] compete with our other safeties and we'll see how it all turns out," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday.

Doug Kyed of NESN wrote Tuesday that "it would not be surprising" if Tavon Wilson, a 2012 second-round draft pick, was setting up shop next to McCourty Week 1. Tavon started in place of the incumbent Steve Gregory when Gregory missed four games to injury. Kyed notes Tavon excelled at "covering tight ends" in his various roles as a rookie.

Gregory can't necessarily be counted out, either, but there's probably a reason New England brought in so much help. A week and a half ago, Bill Belichick & Co. also drafted Duron Harmon out of Rutgers in the third round.

Harmon, considered a reach by some, was prepared to be taken anywhere -- or nowhere -- in the draft, but the Patriots obviously had him high in their radar for a reason.

"I think I do a lot of things that they like," Harmon said. "I’m not just an in-the-box safety and I’m not just a free safety; I can play both positions, and I’ve shown that over the years at Rutgers."

McCourty, also a former Rutgers defensive back, called Harmon shortly after Harmon became a Patriot. "He said he’s very eager to get me up there," Harmon said. "He’s very eager to teach me what he knows, help me with the defense, basically just eager to play with me again."

Short story shorter, the Patriots have options at safety. And with the versatility Belichick requires at the position, any combination of said players is possible.

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