EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Surrounded by his fellow defensive backs minutes before Thursday’s preseason finale against the Giants, Patriots defensive back Jason McCourty delivered an impassioned pregame speech.

His message was to reflect on the earliest moments of their childhoods, when they told their families one day they would play pro football and ensure their mothers would never have to work again. The first real step they could take toward that goal, he said, was Thursday night. Whether they stick in New England or land with another team after Saturday’s roster cuts, this game could help prove they belonged in the NFL.

McCourty, six years older than any other defensive back who played Thursday, would know. As a rookie in 2009, he proved himself in preseason to the Tennessee Titans, played seven more years in Nashville, and caught on with Cleveland last season. Soon after, he landed in New England and has now come full circle.

As he once found himself as a sixth-round pick in Tennessee, McCourty sits squarely on the bubble with the Patriots. But despite the change of status and scenery, McCourty said he’s unconcerned about what the immediate future holds.

“I’ve probably exceeded every expectation I had for myself going into my rookie year of what my NFL career would be, so whatever happens here happens,” McCourty said. “You put it in God’s hands, you play your best and however it goes down, it goes down.”

Were McCourty’s case for a roster spot argued in court, his attorney would likely point to his rapid development as a safety. Even if he can’t edge out starting corners Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe or second-round pick Duke Dawson or Jonathan Jones or playmaking rookie J.C. Jackson, he could provide depth in the back end. Since sending McCourty to play safety last week for the first time since the 31-year-old was in Pop Warner, Coach Bill Belichick noted he’s seen real growth.

“I think he made a big jump this week,” Belichick said after Thursday’s game. “He did a good job last week, made some good tackles. Thought he got more comfortable this week, showed up on the practice field and looked like it tonight, too. So it was encouraging.”

McCourty agreed to the point where he said he now feels comfortable taking snaps at the position. His comfort, he explained, stems from two things: the natural self-confidence of a professional athlete and thorough understanding of the Patriots’ system.

“I think I have a good understanding of what a safety has to do on each and every defense that we call,” McCourty said. “So just having confidence in myself that I can go out there and execute, without a doubt, I do.”

If McCourty loses his spot to Jackson, it will be for the same reason he’s stuck around this long. Jackson, an undrafted rookie out of Maryland, has finally paired his natural cover skills and athleticism with the study habits he eschewed in college; the same that helped launch the careers of both Jason and his twin teammate, Devin McCourty.

The results for Jackson this summer were a team-leading eight pass breakups in camp and two interceptions Thursday.

Still, if sent packing, McCourty says he will remain at peace, not only because of the career he’s logged so far, but the memories he’s made this summer, however fleeting they may have been.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment, and I guess even coming in in April, I kind of put a premium on that. Just you don’t know what’s gonna unfold, how things are going to go,” McCourty said. “So just make sure throughout the process you enjoy every moment and soak it all up.”