Chung gives no further illumination on fake punt


Chung gives no further illumination on fake punt

By Tom E. Curran

TAUNTON -- It's been dissected in Zapruder film fashion. The fake punt fail just before halftime of the Patriots-Jets divisional playoff game. Patrick Chung's been the fall guy. He was the personal protector for punter Zoltan Mesko, the one responsible for calling out blocking assignments and the snap. He's taken the blame for the play. He's the one Bill Belichick has said "feels badly" about the play. But what exactly does Chung need to feel badly about? Did he make the wrong read of the defense? Did he use the wrong verbiage before the snap, causing long-snapper Matt Katula and others on the punt team to believe a fake was on when, as far as Chung knew, he was simply calling out an "alert?" Does he feel badly about simply dropping a snap he didn't appear ready for? The fact Chung nobly stood and faced the music and questions the day after the game doesn't get down to the nitty-gritty. What was the major malfunction?"We talked about that already," Chung said Wednesday at Mulcahey Elementary School in Taunton. "It was my mistake making the call. That's all it was. That's me." Chung was at Mulcahey to read aloud as part of the school's "ReadThrough the Stars" program. He read two books and was funny and engaging to the nearly 500 kids assembled. Beingat the school in a Patriots capacity, though,puts onus onus tocover the Patriots side of things. And since we still don't have full illumination on why the fake punt was called or went awry, it remains a topic. But not to Chung. "It's behind me," he explained. "It was behind me the dayI cleared it up. I'm on to the next one. That play's over."Chung said he watched the "whole thing" when asked about Super Bowl XLV. Asked if is was hard to swallow, watching two teams his Patriots beat go at it for the title, Chung answered, "There are no 'what ifs.' It is what it is. They're at the Super Bowl and we're not in it. That's all I can say about that." With the CBA expiring shortly, there's a high likelihood teams will "lock out" the players and they'll be on their own to work out and get ready for the season when it comes. "We don't know what's gonna happen but you have to prepare like there's gonna be a season," said Chung. "It's up to yourself. You work how hard you want to work, you're gonna see who the real players are."

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Does Butler want to be with Patriots beyond 2017? 'Whatever happens, happens'

Does Butler want to be with Patriots beyond 2017? 'Whatever happens, happens'

FOXBORO -- Malcolm Butler came off of the Gillette Stadium practice field to a gaggle of reporters who had been interested in speaking to him all offseason. There had been speculation not too long ago that he'd be traded. There was speculation he might sign elsewhere as a restrcited free agent.

What he would say on those topics might prove to be informative. People were eager to hear from him. But it was what he didn't say that may have been the most interesting part of his first back-and-forth with reporters since Super Bowl LI.

In the rain, in front of a dozen or more microphones, following his team's third organized team activity practice, Butler was asked if he would like to be in New England beyond the 2017 season, the final year of his contract. 

"Can't predict the future," he said. "Whatever happens, happens."

Butler was given several opportunities to say that he'd like to stick with the Patriots for the long term, but he was non-committal. Though his presence on the roster for this season gives the Patriots a supremely talented cornerback duo, the fact that the team gave Stephon Gilmore a lucrative long-term contract this offseason makes Butler's long-term future in New England a bit hazy.

Playing for a restricted free agent tender worth $3.91 million, Butler was asked if it was difficult to separate the business side of things from his on-field performance.

"Not really," he insisted. "Just gotta come here and just play football. You gotta earn everything you want. Gotta come here, work hard each and every day. Nobody's gonna give you nothing."

He added: "Just gotta keep working. Ignore the noise, and just keep working. No matter what. You got a job to do no matter where you're at. Glad to be here to do this job."

Butler received significant interest from the Saints during the offseason, and he made a trip to New Orleans to visit the organization's facilities there. Unwilling to provide Butler with a big-money contract offer and turn over their first-round pick to the Patriots, the Saints decided to cease in their pursuit of the 27-year-old Super Bowl XLIX hero. 

Butler said he didn't wasn't always sure he was going to be in New England for 2017.

"You never know what's gonna happen, I was just sitting back patiently waiting," he explained. "Just doing what I can do, control only what I can control. I'm here now and that's what it is."

That Butler has been at Patriots workouts and OTA practices since signing his tender is an indication that he's ready to throw himself into the upcoming season with his sights set on performing as well as possible in order to put himself in the best position possible when he's scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the year. 

"Wasn't gonna hurt nobody but myself if I missed this," he admitted. "This is extra time to get better, and that's what I'm out here to do. To get better and have another great year. Anything to help the team. Present a positive image."