Pats' secondary coach: Butler 'is never going to give up the fight'

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Pats' secondary coach: Butler 'is never going to give up the fight'

FOXBORO -- Though he’s still fresh-faced, Patriots cornerback coach Josh Boyer has been on Bill Belichicks’ staff for a dozen years, including the last six presiding over the likes of Darrelle Revis, Aqib Talib, Brandon Browner and Logan Ryan. In all that time, he’s never seen anyone play the position as competitively as Malcolm Butler.

“I would say that’s unique,” Boyer told me today. “It’s one of those things that whether something happens right, wrong or indifferent on that play, you know he’s always gonna be competitive. I think that’s an attribute to just his personal makeup . . . I think all of our guys are competitive but Malcolm is never going to give up the fight no matter what stands in his way or what obstacles he has. He’s always going to be competitive.”

Butler had a unsettling offseason that actually traced all the way back to an in-season contract negotiation that came close but never got completed. When that offer remained the same, and then Stephon Gilmore was paid massive dollars on day one of free agency, Butler, a restricted free agent, shopped himself. But with New Orleans and other teams unwilling to pay the price of a first-round pick, Butler decided he had no choice and returned to Foxboro somewhat reluctantly.

"Can't predict the future," Butler said back on May 25. "Whatever happens, happens."

While Butler wouldn’t commit to wanting to be a Patriot long term, he has made every effort to once again establish himself as the team’s best cornerback while not letting an unsettling contractual situation play play havoc with his on-field performance.

“You guys probably talk about a lot of stuff that we never talk about so we’re just, I’ll give Malcolm credit,” said Boyer, “He’s here. He works hard. We don’t ever talk about other outside issues. It’s all football and I think his focus -- I talked to him yesterday when he was in the building -- he’s excited to be back, excited to work, excited to see what this season holds for him.”
 

What would it take for Patriots training camp to actually be interesting?

What would it take for Patriots training camp to actually be interesting?

You’ve spent more of this offseason debating 19-0 with your friends than you have debating who will emerge as the Patriots’ right tackle in camp. Know why? Because 19-0 is more interesting, and it’s realistic. What isn’t realistic is this training camp being particularly interesting. 

Like any year, training camp will serve a major purpose in preparing the Pats for the coming season. Roster locks will get up to game speed, while positional battles will lead to both jobs earned and spots lost. Yet everyone knows what the final result will be, barring disaster striking: The Patriots will be way better than everyone else, even more so than in previous seasons. 

Coming off another Super Bowl victory, Brady is as good as he’s ever been and he’s loaded with weapons at receiver, tight end and running back. The defense kept Dont’a Hightower and added Stephon Gilmore, David Harris and Kony Ealy. There isn’t a single hole on the roster, and the depth at key positions is strong. 

So what would actually need to happen over the next few weeks to move the needle? 

ANY SORT OF BRADY INJURY

Duh. Lots of “How does Garoppolo look?” talk with a dash of “Is Brissett really the future?” mixed in. Adam Schefter would go hard with the “and this is why they were NEVER going to trade Garoppolo” bars. 

ONE OF THE DRAFT PICKS IS A STUD 

The Patriots put out a graphic on Twitter after the draft with the caption, “4 trades, 4 picks and 1 restricted free agent. How the Patriots used their 2017 picks.” The graphic then assigned traded/surrendered draft picks to veterans Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, Dqayne Allen, Mike Gillislee and James O’Shaughnessy, with four actually drafted players sprinkled in. 

The graphic was fitting at the time, as the sentiment was that the Pats opted to spend their draft capital in the trade market and restricted free agency rather than actually selecting players. The fanbase was wholly OK with this, as it helped the Pats continue to strengthen their roster for another Super Bowl run. No rookies? No problem. 

Except there actually were those four rookies, including one in Derek Rivers who was viewed in the draft as having major sleeper potential at defensive end. 

If Rivers, fellow defensive end Deatrich Wise or offensive linemen Antonio Garcia and Conor McDermott hit, it will essentially be found money in the eyes of Pats fans. It will also further load up the Super Bowl favorites even more. 

CYRUS JONES DOES SOMETHING 

The Patriots don’t really need Cyrus Jones to be great. They can survive with Eric Rowe and Justin Coleman behind Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore. Yet they spent a second-round pick on Jones for a reason, even if that reason never really showed itself during a disastrous rookie year. 

Assuming Butler isn’t traded and Gilmore adjusts well, having Jones make strides would further bolster New England’s secondary while also giving the Pats an asset in the return game. It would also beg the question of how a player could be so bad one year and so good the next. 

MALCOLM BUTLER GETS TRADED

Dammit. Now I’ve got trades on the brain. 

JIMMY GAROPPOLO GETS TRADED

Need that Adam Schefter meltdown. Need it.  

2015 DION LEWIS RETURNS 

The Pats are going with quantity over quality in the backfield, but none of their running backs have shown the type of ceiling — particularly in the passing game — that Lewis has. Coming off two straight seasons that were marred by injury, the 26-year-old Lewis is in the last year of his contract and has potential replacements as teammates in James White and Rex Burkhead. His stock might be low now, but would anybody really be surprised if he stole his touches back? The real question, as always, will be how long he can stay healthy.

Agency: Patriots add undrafted rookie DE Caleb Kidder

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Agency: Patriots add undrafted rookie DE Caleb Kidder

FOXBORO -- The Patriots came into Wednesday in the unusual position of having a couple of open roster spots on their 90-man roster just before the team's first training camp practice. 

The Patriots filled one of their two open spots, per the agency Reign Sports, by signing undrafted rookie defensive end Caleb Kidder out of Montana. Kidder was initially signed by the Vikings following this year's draft but was recently released to make room for a man named Chunky.

Kidder, who checked in at 6-foot-4, 269 pounds at his pro day, was named to the All-Big Sky second team and racked up 29.5 career tackles for loss. During the pre-draft process, he clocked a 4.97 40-yard dash and a 6.91-second three-cone drill. 

It seems as though he'll compete for a spot in a position group that includes Rob Ninkovich, Trey Flowers, Kony Ealy, Shea McClellin, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom. 

The Patriots had a pair of roster spots open recently when Andrew Hawkins retired and Chase Farris was waived with a non-football injury designation.