Belichick looks to the week ahead

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Belichick looks to the week ahead

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- The Patriots got back to work on Saturday at GilletteStadium after an off-day on Friday, but prior to the afternoon session, coachBill Belichick addressed the media and talked about the week ahead.

Its a big week for us coming up here, said Belichick.Weve got some things we can build on from training camp and the preseasongame against Jacksonville. Weve got to start stacking some things on top ofthat, in terms of situations and a little bit of expansion in our system.

A lot of things we havent covered. We have competition ata lot of spots that were going to have to evaluate.

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One of those positions he talked about was the running backposition.

The guy weve seen the most of is BenJarvus, said Belichick.Sammys role is a diverse one. Woody, we saw a lot of last year, but not intraining camp. He came in in the middle of the season, so we really have to seewhat his whole value to the team would be with an entire training camp, knowingthe system, and really being able to build off his experience last year.

Seeing how well Dane Fletcher performed running thedefense at middle linebacker on Thursday night, Belichick was asked about JerodMayo, and if he would ever move to an outside linebackers role.

The answer? Nope.

I dont really see that, said Belichick. I think hesgoing to play off the line of scrimmage. Hes going to play in the tackle boxsomewhere. Whatever front were in over, under, 3-4, 4-3, 2-4 hes going toplay in the tackle box somewhere. Thats what hes always done. Hes one of thebest Ive coached. Hes one of the best in the league at doing that. I cantimagine him playing anywhere else.

Belichick was also asked about Matt Light, to which thePatriots coach praised the veteran offensive lineman who recently re-signedwith the team.

Matts been a good player for us, said Belichick. Hesbeen here and played very well for us through the years and has been a reallyconsistent player.

As well as playing, he gives us a lot of other things. I think hes good forour football team. I dont think you can have too many good players, especiallyat that position. We worked it out. Matt and I talked about the situation, andobviously we feel comfortable with him on the team, and he felt comfortablesigning with the team, so I dont see any reason not to go full speed aheadwith it.

If you noticed most kickoffs are turning into simpletouchbacks, youre not the only one. A new NFL rule has moved kickoffs up tothe 35-yard line, but Belichick said it was done with the intent of having moretouchbacks and fewer returns. So he isnt surprised with the result of the newrule.

I dont think theres any doubt that, league-wide, therellbe more touchbacks this year, said Belichick. I think, statistically, thatspretty well documented.

We had our meetings in March, and that was the proponentsof the rule. Thats what they wanted. They wanted to see more touchbacks andless kickoff returns, and Im sure, statistically, that will happen.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Thursday's Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk participates, Cannon does not

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Thursday's Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk participates, Cannon does not

FOXBORO -- There was good news and bad news for the Patriots on Thursday's injury report.

The good? Rob Gronkowski ratcheted up his participation in practice from Wednesday to Thursday and was listed as a "limited" participant. On Wednesday, though he was spotted on the field and participating in some drills, he was listed as a non-participant. 

The bad? Marcus Cannon was on the field to start the session, but he was later listed as a non-participant as he deals with an ankle issue and a concussion.

Also on the not-so-good news front for Bill Belichick's club: Rex Burkhead (ribs) did not participate for the second-straight day, throwing his availability into doubt for Sunday; defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee) was also held out of practice. 

On the Texans' end of things, it's worth keeping an eye on the status of their corners Kevin Johnson and Jonathan Joseph. Johnson didn't participate due to a knee issue, and Joseph was limited with a shoulder injury. 

Thursday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
NT Brandon Dunn (knee)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)

Malcolm Butler: 'I haven't been performing at the level that I should be'

Malcolm Butler: 'I haven't been performing at the level that I should be'

FOXBORO -- When Malcolm Butler didn't start against the Saints on Sunday, it wasn't something he was told ahead of time. It did surprise some of his teammates, though, during that week's walkthrough when he wasn't working with the starters. 

On Thursday, instead of acting shellshocked, Butler sounded like a player who was set on earning a place back in the Patriots starting lineup.

TODAY'S PATRIOTS REPORT

"I haven't been performing at the level that I should be performing at," he said. "I gotta do whatever I gotta do to help the team. Whatever role that I get, I got a job to do so I gotta do it. Just gotta keep grinding, keep working hard."

Butler found himself working in behind Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe in New Orleans as the team's No. 3 corner. Asked if he was frustrated -- he's making $3.91 million this year and is scheduled to hit free agency after the season -- he acknowledged that those types of feelings have crept in at times. 

"I kind of thought about it like that, but I can't worry about anything but what's happening right now," Butler said. "Complaining or feeling sorry for myself is not going to make me perform better. I just gotta keep rolling. I'm gonna get it rolling. That's what I'm going to do."

In the last year of his deal, and with a highly-paid corner on the roster for the foreseeable future, Butler's name is a logical one to be tossed around as a candidate to be traded, but he said he tries not to pay attention to that speculation.

"As much as I can I try not to," he said. "This is where I play. This is where I'm happy at. I just gotta continue doing my thing."

Still without a long-term deal, Butler explained he has felt sorry for himself at times, but he's done what he can, he said, to push those thoughts aside. 

"We all had those feelings before, but we wake up and realize in reality that it's not going to help you," he said. "It's not going to help you. I just gotta go out there and play hard with a lot of fire and that's what I'm going to do. We'll see."

Butler allowed four catches on five targets for 40 yards and a touchdown against the Saints last weekend. In Week 1 he had a costly pass-interference penalty in the end zone that led to a Chiefs score.

While he has been disappointed in his play thus far this season, he sounded confident that he'd be able to work his way back into defensive coordinator Matt Patricia's group of starters. "I'm finding my way back, better believe that."

Butler added that he hasn't been told if he'll start this weekend against the Texans, but "I'm playing like it, though. I'm practicing like it. I'll be ready. It starts at practice."

"It's still early," he said. "Two games [and] preseason games, but there's no excuses. There's no excuses. I'll be ready to roll. Lights out."

Why so confident in the bounce-back?

"There've been times when I've been through a lot of stuff man," he said. "I made it through that and I made it to the National Football League. If I can handle that and make it to the NFL then I can put my mind together to make it past this situation. Just gotta perform better. It's still early, but need a sense of urgency and we'll see that."

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