Devin McCourty surgery a reminder of physical toll players endure

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- This is the time of year when players undergo surgery to address nagging ailments from the season. Along those lines, New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty had what a source described as a clean-up procedure on his shoulder.

The surgery, while not considered major in nature, is a reminder of the physical toll that players endure over the course of a season. McCourty had first been listed on the injury report prior to the season finale against the New York Jets as a limited participant in practice because of his shoulder, and he had been questionable for the game.

McCourty ultimately played in that game, and ultimately played in 97.1 percent of the defensive snaps during the regular season as one of the team's ironman performers.

The Patriots concluded their season on Feb. 4 with a 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, a game in which McCourty played all 75 snaps on defense. At times, he was playing down in the box and asked to defend the run from that spot, which was a challenging assignment considering his size (5-foot-10, 195 pounds) compared with the players often blocking him.

McCourty drew praise from coach Bill Belichick in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

"There’s not many that do more behind the scenes than Devin does. He just does a tremendous job in every area. He’s been a team captain for multiple years, team captain his second year, which speaks a lot for his leadership and the respect that he has from his teammates. [Jerod] Mayo is in that category, but it’s a short list," Belichick said. "Devin’s a great teammate that works extremely hard, does his job well, very supportive of all his teammates, good communicator, hard worker on and off the field, works great in the weight room, film room, practice field, tough mental player on the football field.

"He’s played corner, he’s played strong safety, free safety, been involved in pretty much everything in the kicking game: kickoff, kickoff return, punt returns, field-goal rush. He plays a lot of snaps over the course of the season, a lot of different responsibilities, working with linebackers and corners and the safeties. I can’t say enough about the job that he’s done this year, and every year really. He’s an outstanding player and an even better person and better teammate. I couldn’t be prouder to coach a player than Devin McCourty."