KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Devin McCourty shook his head slightly as he reflected on his journey over the past 12 months.
“Being out here as a rookie is a crazy experience,” McCourty said after his first workout with the Pro Bowl's AFC squad on Wednesday at Kapolei High School.
Around this time a year ago, simply making an NFL roster was foremost on McCourty’s mind coming out of Rutgers. So ending his rookie season with the New England Patriots with a Pro Bowl selection is what he calls “a big turnaround.”
“I was thinking about how to get into the NFL and get drafted to now being out here with some of the best," McCourty said. "I’m loving it."
McCourty is one of three rookies on the AFC roster (Kansas City safety Eric Berry and Tennessee kick returner Marc Mariani are the others), earning a spot with a season highlighted by seven interceptions and 82 total tackles.
“One thing that helped me out a lot was when you came out the first day, you had Tom Brady, we had Randy [Moss] at that point, Wes Welker -- you gain confidence just being on the field,” McCourty said. “You’re getting better because they’re beating you at first, and then as you start making plays, that helped my confidence.”
As for his first trip to Hawaii, McCourty said he’s taking sightseeing tips from Patriots teammate Vince Wilfork, who is making his third Pro Bowl appearance, while perhaps further honing his game during the week.
“I’m trying to pick up as much as I can from everybody -- AFC, NFC, corners, linebackers,” McCourty said. “Just trying to see how they look at the game.”
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Jason Kaneshiro is covering the Pro Bowl for ESPNBoston.com all week.