Butler hopes 'Dirty Show' title earns him playing time

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Butler hopes 'Dirty Show' title earns him playing time

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- They call it the "Dirty Show" championship belt. This week, it's sitting in the locker of cornerback Darius Butler.

Butler has seen a shortage of playing time this season, and has even been benched in favor of rookie Devin McCourty and sophomore Kyle Arrington.

But this week, Butler is the reigning Dirty Show champ -- the title given to the Patriots' practice player of the week.

So what exactly do you have to do to earn the belt?

"Practice hard and make plays out there, and that's what I've been doing the last couple of weeks," said Butler after Friday's practice at Gillette Stadium. "Just trying to be physically and mentally prepared every day."

Earlier on Friday, coach Bill Belichick said Butler is still "in the mix." But he added anyone who's active for the game is in the same boat.

"He had a good week of practice," said Belichick. "He did a good job. He got his hands on a lot of balls. He made it hard on our offense.

"I think every player that's active, they're in the mix. If they're active for the game, then you have some role in the game. Whether that materializes or not, that depends on the situations in the game. Anybody that's active for the game, we have confidence putting them in the game. They have a role, and we expect them to do well, if they're inserted in that role."

Butler hopes that his successful week of practice pays off, and earns him some more playing time on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

After all, he is the Dirty Show champ.

"I'm always ready," said Butler. "I go out and practice every day like I'm going to be a starter. You never know what happens, if it's a game plan thing or an injury thing, or anything. You can be thrown in there, in the mix anytime."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

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Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday'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)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

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

HOUSTON TEXANS

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

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

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