McCourty makes smooth transitions

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After working at cornerback for parts of Thursday and Friday practices, Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty settled back into his safety role for Saturday's scrimmage.

It's unclear whether the team has plans to use the fourth-year player at cornerback, his natural position, or whether he'll be used exclusively at safety, a spot at which he has stood out during camp and where he performed well during the 2012 season.

No matter where it is, it will be just fine by McCourty.

"I like wherever they put me," he said. "It's a chance to help the team win, that's what it's all about, as many games as we can win. Right now, to be able to practice a couple of positions always helps. In the season, injuries happen, things happen, you never know, you can't take everyone you want into games. You never know [when you've] got to play musical chairs back there."

The defensive captain didn't show many signs of rust in taking cornerback reps during the week of practice, but he insists that switching between the two positions is not an easy chore.

"I wish it was that easy," he said. "It's always challenging. That's one reason I'm playing multiple positions, to make sure I can keep playing both and keep staying fresh on it, because I wish I could say it's as easy as riding a bike, but it's not. You have to be out there and getting reps and experience certain things, you can't just walk out there and be able to play."

Specifically, McCourty believes staying on top of the different techniques involved with each position can be a challenge.

"It's more technique," he noted on Saturday. "I think I know most of the stuff we do here [from] the defensive standpoint, [but] you can always learn more. But technique and as we get into the season seeing different teams, seeing what they do and viewing it from the corner standpoint and the safety standpoint is one of the biggest differences."

Our sense on McCourty working at both positions is both to get reps for him in the event of an in-season injury, as he alluded to, and also to balance out some reps among the secondary right now, as the cornerback spot has been thinned by injury issues for both Ras-I Dowling and Alfonzo Dennard. Dowling has missed the past two practices, while Dennard has been limited in recent work.

The Patriots' secondary made strides last season when McCourty was inserted as a safety, improving even more upon the insertion of Aqib Talib and Dennard as starters. With the group largely intact from last season, it has a chance to grow into an area of strength for the defense, with McCourty as the player his teammates looking toward to guide the way, no matter where he lines up.