FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For any player selected to the Pro Bowl, following up on his performance the next season can prove to be a difficult task.
It may be too early for McCourty's struggles to be labeled as a "sophomore slump," but the start of his 2011 campaign has been noticeably rocky.
In the regular season opener, 6-foor-4, 230-pound Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall caught seven passes for 139 yards, with McCourty the Patriots defender most often in coverage.
"You start the season against a guy like Brandon Marshall, and then this week we have [Chargers quarterback] Philip Rivers, and [receivers] Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd," McCourty said. "We have to just keep getting better."
The 6-5, 230-pound Jackson caught a career-high 10 passes for 172 yards Sunday, while 6-5 pass catcher Malcolm Floyd had two receptions for 59 yards before leaving with an injury.
Both weeks, the 5-10, 193-pound McCourty spent the majority of his time on the field covering someone taller and bigger than him.
“Those guys outweigh me and they have height on me, so I try to be aggressive with them," McCourty explained. "When the ball’s in the air I just trying to fight back with those guys. It’s more of a mindset than a strategy. You just try to tell yourself to keep fighting.”
Last season, McCourty made it look easy as a rookie, snagging seven interceptions, one shy of tying the league high set by Ravens safety Ed Reed. This year, his first two matchups of the season have proved challenging.
"There's some plays where we're making good plays, [or safety] Sergio [Brown] is making a big interception, [and] a couple good stops," said McCourty. "Then there's other plays where I got beat on two touchdowns. So I think right now it's about just trying to become consistent, not just making great plays sometimes, but just keeping that going, and stringing them together."