FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Swing Update) – This week, Jason McCourty took longer than usual to do things in the Patriots' practice facilities as he prepared for their playoff game with the Chargers.
He was one of the first to arrive at breakfast with his teammates. He lingered in meetings and was often one of the last players to leave the field after practice sessions. Whatever the task, he savored it.
It's because McCourty is about to do something he's never done during his NFL career: playing football in January.
In his previous nine seasons – eight in Tennessee and one in Cleveland – McCourty has never been part of a playoff team. Taked by the Titans in 2009, the back defender has been close to the playoffs only twice as a member of the 9-7 Tennessee teams in 2011 and 2016.
He signed with the Browns in 2017, only to undergo a winless season before being handed out to the Patriots.
This season has brought a list of firsts: his first division title, his first week of playoff training and Sunday, his first playoff game.
"I enjoy every moment," McCourty said. "In general, I have already gone home or do what I do for the off season. I'm really trying to savor every moment. "
The move to New England has been a career booster in other respects. First, he reunited him with his twin brother, Devin McCourty, with whom he had not played since appearing in Rutgers. It also gives Jason his first realistic chance to participate in a Super Bowl, which he and Devin dreamed during their period of Pop Warner.
Devin, who won alliances with the Patriots after the 2014 and 2016 seasons, was Jason's biggest mentor and fan.
The twins are only separated by a single booth in the locker room and are usually only a few feet apart. They make a weekly segment with a Boston TV channel and are active members of the NFL Players Coalition.
They also share a Twitter account and broadcast a YouTube show called "Double Trouble," which they use to promote social justice causes and their sickle cell awareness initiative.
Devin was a rookie of the New England team in 2010 who scored 14-2 but lost to the Jets in the divisional round. He said that he wanted to make sure that the first experience of his brother in series does not end in the same way.
"There are none," My bad "or" I'll get it next time, "said Devin." Ten years in the NFL, without having tasted the playoffs, I think it's the probably does more than anyone, he knows it's not guaranteed and it does not happen all the time. "
Jason says that in some ways, the last few weeks have made him feel like a rookie again.
"I joked with a lot of guys after every win. I was probably the strongest guy to scream and celebrate because of what it meant, "he said.
Jason arrived in New England in March as part of a collection of defensive backs that the Patriots signed to strengthen the secondary circuit after starting cornerback Malcolm Butler, who signed with Tennessee.
Jason started his 12th day as a left-back halfback after Eric Rowe entered the reserve in October due to an injury to his groin. He has also contributed to special teams.
Jason's only interception of the season came late in the 24-12 win over the Buffalo against Buffalo last month, allowing New England to win its 10th consecutive title.
"I think his leadership, his communication and his professionalism have been outstanding," said coach Bill Belichick. "It was great to work with. I could not ask for more. "
As proud as Devin is of his brother, he said that their mother, Phyllis Harrell, would be perhaps more excited than themselves. She wore a custom half-Patriot and half-Titan jersey on matchdays. She has updated it with a half blue and half white patriotic jersey this year in tribute to her sons.
"I've won the Super Bowls and everything, but I think the most wanted thing in our NFL career is Jason playing in the playoffs," Devin said. "I'm sure she'll be excited to see him play in his first playoff game. She said that, time and time again, she just wanted him to get some sort of success with the playoffs, the post-season and the atmosphere. McCourty's band will be well packed on Sunday. "