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Friday Patriots Notes: Devin McCourty, Rob Ninkovich, Dallas Clark

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After breaking into the NFL with a spectacular rookie campaign in 2010, Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty had a season to forget last year.

McCourty was a totally different player in 2011, as allowed close to 1,000 yards through the air and six touchdowns in 111 throws, according to Pro Football Focus. He shifted from cornerback to safety midseason, which threw him off his game even more.

In order for the Patriots secondary to rebound from a poor performance last season, it all starts with McCourty re-gaining his form.

Earlier this week, we pegged him as "Make Or Break" player in 2012, and he seems to view himself the same way. On Thursday, he spoke with the media after Patriots OTAs and touched on what he's done to try and improve upon last season. For McCourty, he's not concerned about why he struggled last season, he's just trying to get better.

"I'm not really worrying about the 'why', but just progressing," he explained. "For every player, this is a time of the year where you have an opportunity to work on a vast amount of things."

"We get a chance to come out here and work each day without game-planning and there's no team we're about to play so I'm taking advantage of that time and coming out here and working on my craft."


During the offseason, the NFL decided to increase the roster limit a team may have during training camp from 80 players to 90. No team in the NFL was probably happier by this change than the Patriots were. Especially when it comes to defense.

Currently, the Pats have 14 defensive lineman and 13 linebackers on their roster, as they looked to find the right combination of players to try and rebuild a waning pass rush.

Even though there is more competition than ever for a spot on the Patriots 53-man roster, second-year starting linebacker Rob Ninkovich isn't too bothered by it all.

"It really doesn't hurt me at all," he said of New England bulking up. "I've been through a lot in my NFL career so it really doesn't affect me as far as guys coming in. I look it as a plus -- the team's going to be better. And if you have any type of injury or something, you have guys coming in who are all good, all fresh, all talented. It helps the team out, so I'm excited.

"The more guys you have, as far as personnel, it's always going to help you as far as options and things you're going to do with defensive scheme."


A few weeks ago, the Patriots hosted former Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark for a free agent workout and visit. This particular visit came as a bit of a shock, taking that the Patriots already have two Pro Bowl caliber tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on their roster.

Adding the 32-year old Clark made hardly any sense, if any sense at all.

He seemed to think so too, as he later worked out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and ended up signing with them. In an appearance on Doug Gottlieb's show on ESPN Radio, Clark talked a little bit more about his decision to choose the Bucs over the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs.

"It was really weird. After a few minutes of just kind of getting over that, just focusing on the opportunity and the option to play for the organization then you start really getting excited and geared up," he said. "What a class act organization and coaches and everyone involved, and the players over there. It's a special place, that's for sure, but it just didn't make sense to go there compared to Tampa."