Harmon on Butler: 'People have to do what's best for them'

Harmon on Butler: 'People have to do what's best for them'

Malcolm Butler is a man without a team at the moment. Though it seems as though the wheels are in motion for him to be dealt to New Orleans, that's not a done deal, and there is a chance he ends up back in New England for 2017.

Patriots safety Duron Harmon, who re-signed with the Patriots this offseason after testing free agency, is hoping that Butler will be back. He understands, though, that any player who is weighing his options needs to do what's best for him. 

"I love Malcolm," Harmon said during a conference call Friday. "I love being his teammate, what he brings to the football field, what he brings to the locker room. I would love being his teammate but, you know, this is a business more than anything. I know that people have got to do what’s best for them, so I’m just rooting on him that he gets to do whatever he feels is best for him."

While Butler's future is up in the air, the Patriots are sure to have a new-look secondary in 2017 thanks to the acquisition of free-agent corner Stephon Gilmore. Though Gilmore is at his best when playing man-to-man and getting physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage, he won't be playing in a vacuum. He'll have to get up to speed on all the communication that occurs in the Patriots defensive backfield. 

The majority of the work in that regard will fall on Gilmore's shoulders, but he'll have to have help from the veterans he'll be working with. Harmon explained that he and his teammates will be willing to put in as many hours as need be in order for Gilmore to feel comfortable. 

"We’ve got to put the work in," he said. "We’ve got to come on the practice field, we’ve got to work hard on the practice field and in the classroom. If we've got to stay after, we've got to stay after.

"You know how much we like to win around here and communication is very key to how we play good defense. It probably will always be that way, so we’ve got to make sure the communication is up to par, and it’s going to be on us to make sure everybody is communicating and communicating the right stuff."

Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list


Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

The Patriots will be without two of last year's defensive starters when training camp begins later this week. 

Both Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch were placed on the physically unable to perform list on Monday. They are eligible to come off the list at any time. Once they are removed from the list, they will be eligible to practice fully. Players on PUP count against the 90-man training-camp roster.

Undrafted rookie tackle Andrew Jelks will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. The Vanderbilt product dealt with knee injuries that kept him off the field each of the last two seasons. 

Neither Hightower, nor Branch, nor Jelks participated in spring practices at Gillette Stadium. Hightower was present for voluntary work, but during practices open to the media he typically did some conditioning off to the side. Branch skipped optional team activities (as he usually does), and though he was in Foxboro for mandatory minicamp, he did not practice during that three-day stretch.

Hightower was limited last season with knee and shoulder injuries. The MMQB.com's Albert Breer said on Sports Sunday that Hightower's health concerns made teams reticent to make him offers that would lure him away from New England. 

Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers


Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

In what’s been a somewhat busy offseason for their secondary, veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is in talks with the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter. 

Flowers, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs and last three with the Chargers, was released in March. He is set to meet with the Cardinals this week as well. 

The Pats lost cornerback Logan Ryan this offseason, but landed the top free agent corner on the market in Stephon Gilmore. A potential addition of Flowers might give them an insurance policy if second-year pro Cyrus Jones fails to improve from a dismal rookie season. 

Flowers was limited to just six games last season, as a concussion ended his season in December. He has played in at least 11 games in the rest of his NFL seasons. His lone Pro Bowl nod came in the 2013 season.