We recently discussed how New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourtyis facing a critical season. As fate would have it, his twin brother, Jason McCourty, is also facing a make-or-break campaign, as he is looking to take on a leadership role with the Tennessee Titans, John Glennon of The Tennessean reported Wednesday.
However, he told Glennon, he is no stranger to being the lead dog.
"It feels natural for me," McCourty said. "I was the captain in college. Guys looked up to me."
A sixth-round pick out of Rutgers in 2009, the 6-foot, 188-pound McCourty was a part-time starter his first two seasons in the league before starting 15 games in 2011. McCourty led the Titans with 103 tackles, tied safety Michael Griffin for the team lead in interceptions (two), and picked up his first NFL sack.
"It's kind of a progression type thing," McCourty said, of becoming a team leader. "You come into the league as a young guy, you watch the older guys and you learn from them, and as they move on, you kind of continue to step up. I think gradually, the younger guys -- myself and other guys in this building -- will step up."
McCourty is scheduled to earn $1.26 million in base salary in 2012, the final year of his rookie contract. Barring a Pro Bowl-caliber season, McCourty is unlikely to equal the five-year, $50 million contract Finnegan got in free agency, but making more plays and establishing himself as a backbone of the unit would position him to land a very good second contract.