The unique connection shared by twins only goes so far.
The world is full of anecdotal evidence in which one feels the pain of his or her sibling or in which the two act in an identical manner at the same moment, even if hundreds or thousands of miles separate them.
Jason McCourty tried as much as he could last January and February to share in a unique experience with his identical twin brother Devin, the older by 27 minutes. The Tennessee Titans cornerback reveled in the fact that his brother, a New England Patriots cornerback, got to play in a conference championship game and — eventually — the Super Bowl.
He was clear, though, that his position as a spectator and confidant did not provide him any sense of personal accomplishment.
“To watch him win the AFC Championship game, that night, just to see him celebrating and knowing he’s going to the Super Bowl and then me being out there in [Indianapolis, site of Super Bowl XLVI] with him, it’s something special,” Jason McCourty said Monday. “It gave me a little bit of extra motivation of working and trying to get there myself with these guys.
“It was special to see that but I want to make sure in my career I get the opportunity to do that.”
Regardless of whatever psychic connections do or do not exist between those who shared prenatal proximity, it is certain that Jason and Devin McCourty will experience different emotions Sunday when the Titans host the Patriots in the 2012 opener for both teams (noon, CBS). One will revel in the joy of victory. The other will wallow in the misery of defeat.
It is the first time the two will be on opposite sides of a football game in recent memory. Jason recalled some summer basketball games in which they went head to head, but they were teammates for four years and the starting cornerbacks for two at Rutgers University after having played together in high school.
“As soon as it kind of broke [that the game was scheduled] there was a little bit of trash talking back and forth,” Jason McCourty said. “I got a good amount of family coming into see and it and we’re just excited to be at this level and say we can go against one another.”
The two are the 12th set of twins ever to play in the NFL and one of two currently doing so. Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey and Miami’s Mike Pouncey are the other.
“I mean there are definitely some similarities, as you would expect,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “They’re both fast [and] they’re both aggressive, good tacklers, good solid players. We’ll never get a better look at a guy than we will this week from Devin. It’s about as close as it gets.”
The McCourtys were separated in a manner of speaking, when Jason entered the NFL as the first of Tennessee’s two sixth-round picks in the 2009 draft. Devin was redshirted as a college freshman and came into the league a year later as a first-round pick of the Patriots.
This week they have decided to break of all communication – or at least the ones they can control.
“I talked to him Saturday and we both texted each other to lose one another’s number,” Jason McCourty said. “So I’ll see him Sunday on the field.”
• Not surprisingly, coach Mike Munchak said that Darius Reynaud would open the season as the team’s return specialist in place of Marc Mariani, who will miss the entire season with a broken leg.
In the preseason Reynaud averaged 25.3 yards on six punt returns, including one for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also averaged 33.3 yards on four kickoff returns.
“When he’s been in there, I think he sees things and makes quick decisions on which way, if he’s going to get downhill or make a cutback,” Munchak said. “He’s been consistently good that way, again … from the beginning all through camp.”
• Tennessee now has seven players on its practice squad with the additions of running back Darren Evans and wide receiver Vidal Hazelton.
Evans, out of Virginia Tech, spent time last season on both the practice squad and active roster of the Indianapolis Colts. Hazelton played at both Southern Cal and the University of Cincinnati and spent a brief period last season on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad.