McCourty remains steady despite struggles

Mike Rodak/ESPN Boston

Devin McCourty talks to reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Among the surprises through the first three games of the season for the Patriots has been the play of cornerback Devin McCourty, who, coming off a Pro Bowl nod in his rookie campaign, has struggled to contain opposing receivers.

The challenge this week for the Patriots and McCourty in Oakland will be the Raiders' running game, spearheaded by fourth-year back Darren McFadden, who is on pace to tally over 2,000 rushing yards this season.

"He's a tough back. He's a guy that can kind of go anywhere on the field and has the speed to always take it to the house," McCourty said of McFadden. "You see that on film. You see him break long runs. We've seen him make runs where he has to run outside and get first downs. That will be a challenge for the defense just to come prepared, and most important, tackle."

Last week, McCourty tallied 10 tackles against the Bills' pass-heavy attack, never a good sign for a cornerback. After allowing two touchdowns against San Diego, McCourty was in coverage on a Stevie Johnson touchdown catch in Buffalo.

"I think we watch them and you kind of pick up what happens on each play," McCourty said of the touchdown catches and other big plays the defense allowed thus far. "You put that in your memory bank, you store that, and you go out and practice and try to improve on it, do different things [to] work on it. I don't know if it's as much a common factor in each one, but usually it's similar, but a little different."

The normally reserved McCourty has the support of fellow defensive co-captain Jerod Mayo, who expressed his confidence in McCourty on Thursday despite the second-year cornerback's growing pains this season.

"I'm sure he has no problem with confidence. We talk about things all the time," Mayo explained. "Just like if I'm out there struggling, or if he's out there struggling, anyone, you just keep saying, 'chip at the rock, chip at the rock, and eventually it will break.' Just continue to work. He's a hard worker. I have no doubt with Devin."