Every kick crucial for Gostkowski

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Every kick crucial for Gostkowski

FOXBORO -- Is it a problem that Stephen Gostkowski didn't talk to reporters after the Jets game?

No.

But the move puzzled a few people. Gostkowski performed well on Sunday. He hit two clutch kicks -- one from 43 yards that tied the game with less than two minutes to play, and another from 48 that propelled New England to a 29-26 victory.

Why not revel in it? Why leave punter Zoltan Mesko to answer the questions?

"I didn't know he talked for me," Gostkowski replied Tuesday. "Zoltan's a good talker."

Yes, that last bit had some bite to it.

Maybe he doesn't care about personal victory parades. The kicker will offer himself up after any mistake, notably after missing Week 3's game-winner in Baltimore. Most of the time, however, nobody bothers with him.

Like after the Bills game.

"I heard I got in trouble for not talking after the Buffalo game, but I was in there," Gostkowski noted. "Nobody talked for me. I'm not taking the fall for that one."

Gostkowski missed two field goals that day. Both were blown in the first half -- the first from 49 yards, the second from 42. With the Patriots trailing 14-7 at the break, those bad kicks But New England exploded for 35 unanswered points in the second half en route to its 52-28 win and Gostkowski was largely forgotten.

Three weeks later he was a hot commodity again. After skipping the back-patting on Sunday night, he came around to the Jets game on Tuesday.

Still, Gostkowski tried to shrug off singular focus.

"It was positive for everybody. We won," he said. "I had a chance to help the team and I came through. It was fun. It was a good feeling to come out with a win, a division win, against a team that we like to beat."

You see, each kick for Gostkowski is important whether the fans remember it or not. What it comes down to is points on the board, basic math. That's it.

"I try to keep the same focus whether it's a first quarter, second quarter, or third quarter kick because there have been games where I've made or missed kicks where we've ended up winning by three, or that third point could have really helped," Gostkowski explained.

"The dramatics of it might change when you look back at it, but during the game I want to make every kick. If I'd missed a kick in the first quarter I would have been just as upset as if I missed one at the end of the game."

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

FOXBORO -- Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium gave reporters their first opportunity to see both Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore on the field at the same time.

Once Gilmore signed with the Patriots earlier this offseason, there was no guarantee he'd actually team up with the 27-year-old in his fourth season out of West Alabama. But Butler wasn't given an offer sheet by the Saints or anyone else, he wasn't traded, and now together they make up one of the most talented cornerback duos in the NFL. 

"Um, nothing much really," Butler replied when asked for his initial reaction to the Gilmore deal. "Nothing much really. We got a better player. We got another player. We got another good player on this team. Anything to help the team win, I'm down with."

Depite the fact that Gilmore is the one who received the big-money contract from the Patriots earlier this year, Butler had nothing but good things to say about his teammate following Thursday's workout. 

"He brings the size and the coverage skills," Butler said. "One of the best guys in the league. Very underrated. [He's] come in, head down, working hard. Just trying to build off each other no matter what."

Butler acknowledged that the corner group, which also includes Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones, has some work to do when it comes to their communication, but he indicated he'll be happy to chip in wherever he's needed. The Patriots could use some help in the slot following Logan Ryan's departure to Tennessee, and Butler said he'd be open to playing inside.

"Wherever they put me, I'm gonna play that role," he said. "I'm ready to play the slot if that's what it is."

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."