CLEVELAND -- Veteran defensive back Jason McCourty talked about potentially moving to safety during training camp, but before the end of the preseason, the Cleveland Browns waived two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden and had a void to fill after his departure.
Enter McCourty, who has registered three interceptions in six games for the Browns (0-6), who will face off against his former team, the Tennessee Titans, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland Sunday.
“He is playing great,” Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said.
“He has made a bunch of plays. He has three interceptions, returned one last week. He was doing those types of things here. He is one of those guys that you have to pay attention to. He has made plays throughout his career. We have a challenge in front of us.”
Now in his ninth NFL season out of Rutgers University, the 6-foot, 193-pound McCourty registered 505 total tackles, including 418 solo stops, 87 assists and one sack over eight years with the Titans, who selected the Nyack, New York native in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Additionally, McCourty intercepted 13 passes, which he returned for 99 yards, defended 73 others and forced seven fumbles.
McCourty, whose twin brother, Devin, plays for the New England Patriots, played in 108 games for the Titans, including 14 during the 2016 season.
“That was hard to let him go with him being here as long as he was,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “He has a lot of people here that respect him and loved having him as a part of this organization.
“That was a tough decision, but I think he is playing very well right now. Obviously, he has the picks. With what they are doing with him, they are going to support the run with their corners, and he does that very well. He is playing good football right now for the Browns.”
After missing all but four games in 2015, McCourty returned to the field to make 14 starts in 2016. In those starts, McCourty totaled 69 tackles, 60 of which were solo stops. He defended 12 passes and intercepted two others for the Titans, who finished 9-7 and missed out on winning the AFC South Division Championship and making it to the AFC Playoffs because of a tiebreaker with the Houston Texans.
Since joining the Browns, McCourty is tied for the second-most interceptions (three) and third-most passes defended (nine) in the NFL through the first six games of the season. He returned one of those interceptions 56 yards for his first career touchdown in last week’s 33-17 loss at the Texans.
“It is the nature of this business, but to lose a guy like that who had been here for such a long time, plays at a high level and does it the right way, it was tough, but I am happy for him,” Mariota said. “Glad to see that he is doing well and looking forward to playing against him on Sunday.”
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