DB Devin McCourty on the mend

Some New England Patriots observers are still scratching their heads regarding defensive back Devin McCourty's sophomore slump. He went from a Pro Bowl corner in his rookie year to a player who couldn't consistently cover receivers in 2011.

McCourty provided some answers this week. He told the Boston Herald he played with a separated right shoulder since Week 10 of the regular season. McCourty returned after two games, but it appears he was more injured than he was letting on.

McCourty struggled mightily down the stretch for New England's 31st-rated defense. He was eventually moved to safety during the Patriots' playoff run. McCourty didn't require offseason surgery but says he's still not 100 percent.

The Patriots hope McCourty just suffered a down year. They need cover corners, and McCourty proved he can make plays when he had seven interceptions and two forced fumbles as a rookie.