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October 17, 2012

Denial about McCourty must end

FOXBORO – How damaged or even fragile has Devin McCourty grown?

I mean, he’s forcing Bill Belichick way out of the box lately, with the coach massaging McCourty’s ego both publicly and privately.

The coach has to be considered desperate. And why wouldn’t he be if McCourty is the one guy he thinks can be saved.

In his weekly “must-hear” radio stint with WEEI’s Big Show this week, Belichick caused a slew of rush-hour conflagrations when he busted out with this:

“Devin I think has really overall had a good year and has improved in a lot of areas … He’s done a really good job of the things we’ve asked him to do. We’ve asked him to change some things and do some things differently and he’s done a good job of that. I think he’s coming along at corner, and that’s where he’s been. I thought he did a real good job for us in all areas (Sunday). I thought he was on the receivers well. Covered well, jammed them. I thought he did a real good job.”

Obviously, the Pats videographer was out grabbing a late-game hot dog on the game-winning play in which McCourty simply allowed Sidney Rice a free release than run away to cover nobody – unleashing a free-running Rice on a literally defenseless Tavon Wilson.

But Belichick’s “be nice to Devin” plea fits the M.O. recently.

The kid, who supposedly worked so hard in the offseason and gained such respect with his teammates that the boss named him a defensive captain, retreated to 2011 form this season, almost from the opening snap.

In six games, he’s been toasted for six 20-plus yard gains, and that doesn’t include a pair of long pass interference flags earned. You might remember that tiny little 28-yarder in Baltimore that set up the Ravens’ game-winning field goal? (Again, the videographer had to have been hitting the crab cakes late game on that one).

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