Bill Belichick explains why Jason McCourty played safety vs. Panthers

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Photo credit Stew Milne//USA Today Sports

There were a lot of double takes happening Friday night in the third preseason game against the Panthers.

Was Jason McCourty really playing safety?

It occurred at the end of the first half and then to start the second half, as the veteran corner moved back in the secondary for a few plays at safety. Afterwards, he said it was the first time he had played the position at any level.

On a conference call Saturday, Bill Belichick offered an explanation as to why it happened. It would appear it's to make him more versatile so he can earn a roster spot.

"Jason’s a very experienced player and he understands football concepts and a lot of just basic defenses, pass defense and run force concepts and the responsibilities that go with that," Belichick said. "So he’s taken more reps at safety and those were good steps for him. He had some opportunities to play there in the game and had some positive plays, had a couple good tackles, made a good tackle on the goal line, run force and was involved in some coverage plays. Like every player who plays last night, there were some things that he’ll learn from and he’ll see on film and we’ll correct and there were some things that he did well that we can build on and he can build on. It’s a combination of those. We’ll see how that process unfolds going forward, how much more we play him in those spots and again, a lot of the playing players in different positions in the second and third week of preseason, even fourth week of preseason, just relates to building depth on our roster when we only have 46 players on the active game list in the regular season.

"Sometimes those things come up in practice where we don’t have depth at a certain position in practice and a player has to be ready to back-up at that position or maybe has to be ready to play at that position. And having a foundation and a background in it in training camp when you have a little bit of extra time to try to build that can be valuable so that you’re not spending so much time on some very basic things when you get into the season and you have less time. We’ll see how all that unfolds going forward but I think it was a good experience and hopefully whether he does or doesn’t play safety down the road, even just the opportunity to do that might help him have a little better awareness of that position when he plays corner. So I think it’s all positive."

It will be interesting to see where McCourty lines up Thursday against the Giants because if it is at safety, it's a good indication the team plans on having him on the roster.