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Patriots' Devin McCourty continuing to lead, on and off the field

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- During New England Patriots offseason practices, it was hard to miss how safety Devin McCourty was a leading presence on defense. Now in his sixth season with the team, he's one of the most experienced players on defense, so more is expected of him.

Just as McCourty is a leading presence on the field, he's proving once again that the same is true off the field.

One example comes Sunday when he hosts a free football clinic in his hometown of Nyack, New York. The clinic, now in its fourth year and co-sponsored with his twin brother Jason, has 250 registered participants.

Every camper gets a T-shirt and lunch at the three-hour clinic, with the most meaningful part of it a chance to get close to the McCourtys and some of their celebrity guests which include other NFL players.

For McCourty, it's a chance to "be a kid again" with a hope of having a positive impact on the lives of others.

“It’s important to show kids there are examples of people who made it from similar backgrounds as themselves," he said, adding that his hard-working mother has been an inspiration and the idea of starting the clinic was to make her proud.

"A lot of kids have dreams of playing professional sports, or being a doctor or a lawyer, but they might not have role models. Now they'll have football players right in front of them, with a chance to talk to them, which is something I consider an honor and a blessing to be a part of."

McCourty has taken a hands-on approach in past years, jumping into drills to compete with campers. It has been commonplace for him to unlace his cleats and hand them to a camper for winning a spirited competition.

It's a little bit of a different vibe from what we see on the Patriots' practice field, where McCourty's standing among teammates continues to rise to a higher level.

“I think now as I’ve gotten older, and a guy like Vince [Wilfork] isn’t there any more, you look around and it's myself, [Jerod] Mayo, [Rob] Ninkovich, [Patrick] Chung, we're the older guys on defense," he said. "So I think more guys come in right away and say, 'he's been a captain for X amount of years' and when coaches say, 'find someone to look after and learn from', they might do that. We've lost some key guys, great leaders, and I was fortunate to have such a close relationship with Vince. He taught me a lot and was a leader on and off the field."

And now McCourty is carrying the torch.