x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Twins will have fans seeing double when Patriots meet Titans

After years of facing each other only in pickup basketball games, identical twins Devin and Jason McCourt will line-up for opposite teams when the Patriots face the Titans.

Devin McCourty was drafted higher than his brother, Jason, who left Rutgers University for the NFL before him.
Devin McCourty was drafted higher than his brother, Jason, who left Rutgers University for the NFL before him.

The time has come for the NFL debut of the McCourty brothers' family feud.

Devin and Jason have been competing, pushing and fighting each other since birth in the way only identical twins can.

They will play against each other for the first time - not counting pickup basketball and video games - when Jason's Tennessee Titans host the New England Patriots in the regular season opener on Sunday.

Let the record show Devin is the oldest by 27 minutes. But Jason played first at Rutgers and beat Devin into the NFL by a year, although Devin got the edge back as a first-round draft pick in 2010.

Jason cheered on his brother as the Patriots won the AFC championship in January, but says this will be their biggest battle yet.

"It's going to be a unique opportunity," Jason said. "To grow up with a guy, we were always playing on the same team, so at this level to be able to face off will be something special that we won't realise after the game, but probably years from now."

A victory is only part of what is on the line.

"I'd say each one of us is trying to stake a claim for who the family should root for more throughout the season," Devin said. "I think he's felt a little edged out with him just seeing us be in the play-offs my first three years with him coming and rooting on with the family.

"He's probably trying to make sure he gets a win."

Being identical, the brothers from Montvale, New Jersey, are so very similar with the NFL finding some differences. Each is a starting cornerback for his team. Jason gets a two-inch edge on height listed by the Titans as being 6ft, while Devin is seven pounds heavier at 195 according to the Patriots.

They played together at St Joseph's High School in New Jersey and Rutgers University, where they only started together in the secondary for two seasons. Jason says he won all their basketball games, prompting Devin to joke on Wednesday his brother must have had a concussion.

"He probably forgets that I won most of those battles," Devin said.

Jason says he is the better cornerback. Who is faster? Devin acknowledges Jason ran the faster Pro Day time, while he prefers the last 40-yard dash each ran at Rutgers.

"I ran a 4.31, he ran a 4.32," Devin said.

Coaches who have looked at the brothers on video say they look and play alike on the field. Jason, a sixth-round pick in 2009, has started 24 of his 42 games with four career interceptions, while Devin has started 30 games and already has nine interceptions. The Patriots even moved Devin over to safety for some time last season in a pinch.

Jason made up for not being drafted as high as his brother last month when the Titans gave him a deal worth US$44.3 million (Dh162.6m) keeping him under contract through 2017.

Tom Brady has been studying Jason and sees a fast, tough, physical athlete.

"You've got to be careful with the ball around him," Brady said. "He really forces the receiver to run good routes and for the quarterbacks to make good throws because he can capitalise when it's a bad throw by a quarterback."

The brothers share a Twitter account - @McCourtytwins - and held their first football camp together at their high school this off-season. They have been looking forward to this game since the schedule was announced in April.

Mike Munchak, the Titans coach, got to watch his friend and now his offensive line coach Bruce Matthews play against his own brother, Clay. He thinks it will be a little easier on these brothers since both play defence.

"I know it's a big weekend for their family and it's something that's obviously very unique," Munchak said.

The brothers will have about 20 family members on hand at LP Field, including their mother, who will be wearing a joint Patriots-Titans shirt. Jason, who took care of the tickets so his family has better seats, said his mother had better root for the Titans if she's staying at his house.

Jason also knows the perfect outcome will be a Titans victory.

"He'll get over it," Jason said of his brother.

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