FOXBORO — When Jason McCourty was a rookie, he relied on a handful of veteran players for guidance.

If he had a question about the Tennessee Titans’ game plan, he went to someone like Cortland Finnegan, Roderick Hood or Chris Hope. If he had a question about finance, he went to that group.

This season, his first in New England, McCourty has proven his worth on the field. Just last weekend, he played a big part in limiting the production of Pro Bowl receiver Adam Thielen in the Patriots' win over Minnesota. Behind the scenes, however, this 10-year veteran is paying it forward.

McCourty, 31, has turned into one of the Patriots key leaders off the field for rookie cornerbacks J.C. Jackson, Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen.

“It was done for me,” McCourty said. “Whether it had to do with the game plan, whatever it was, life as becoming an NFL player, they were there to help me. So I try to always pass on the knowledge I learned over the past nine years to whoever’s around me.”

As Finnegan, Hood and Hope did for him, McCourty has opened himself up to the younger cornerbacks on any subject, whether it is related to football or personal in nature.

For Keion Crossen, the advice has been invaluable. Growing up in the small town of Garysburg, N.C., Crossen also went to a small university, Western Carolina. The transition to the NFL has been eye-opening and life-changing. McCourty has been available at all hours for the Patriots' seventh-round pick and has helped him greatly.

“Just from starting in camp, coming in, not knowing a thing about the NFL, he kind of helped me transition a whole lot,” Crossen said. “If you have a question, I don’t care if it’s 2 [in the morning], I’ll text him a question and I’ll have an answer. He’ll help you with your studies. ‘Hey, how are you studying film?’

“Even just about life, man. He’s an all-around man. He helps you on the field, off the field. Gives you rides. I’m sure he’s got a room in his house for you, if you need it. Great role model. Great guy. Great teammate.”

Crossen has played sparingly on defense but has been a core special-teamer this season. The Patriots' second-round pick, Dawson, is still waiting to make his debut. Jackson, however, is coming off his first career start in the Patriots' win over Minnesota.

For Jackson, McCourty helps with his studies and during game day. When the rookie is on the field, he has a veteran in his ear telling him what to do on every play.

“He’s got experience, so he just helps me,” Jackson said. “He’ll tell me where to get lined up. I’ll ask him, 'What should I do on this play?' and he’ll give me his best advice. In meeting rooms, I’ll ask him a few questions and he’ll answer it right away. He’s like a big brother, mentor, a coach. He’s all that.”

In his first season with the Patriots, McCourty has locked down the Patriots No. 2 cornerback spot. His play has been so consistent that Pro Football Focus has him graded as their seventh-ranked cornerback in the NFL. As much fun as he’s had on the field, McCourty is also enjoying his leadership role.

He said he’ll often hear from the now-retired veterans who helped him during his early years. McCourty can envision himself seeing the likes of Jackson, Dawson and Crossen on Sundays while he’s at home with his children.

“It’s one of the fun parts of our games," McCourty said. "It sucks as you get older. You can tell my days are dwindling, but it’s really cool and exciting to see young guys come up and see them improve.

“I can imagine one day where I’ll be on the couch somewhere and I’ll watch Duke, Ke and J.C. and hopefully they will still be here and will be manning it down. I’ll turn the TV on and watch those guys and remember being in the locker room watching them grow.”