Hightower says he's a game-time decision Sunday

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Hightower says he's a game-time decision Sunday

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower gave as best an update on his injured hamstring as he could Friday.
"Right now it's a day-to-day thing. It's going to be up to team athletic trainer Jim Whalen and Coach Belichick," he said in the locker room. "But each day it's getting better, I'm feeling better, I'm moving around great. So it's going to be a game-time decision; it's going to be up to them."
Hightower was injured during the first quarter last Sunday when he ran through Bills running back C.J. Spiller en route to sacking quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He played just nine of 77 offensive snaps.
"It was definitely hard going down, but Tracy White did a really good job of stepping in and doing my job," he said. "Definitely well-prepared. He's a great player. Rob Ninkovich and everybody else did a great job picking up where I left off. Hopefully I'll be able to get out there this weekend so we don't have to go through that again."
When asked if he was fighting through pain, the linebacker shook his head.
"No pain. I'm out there, I'm running around and doing everything I can but again, each day it's a day-by-day thing and we're going to have to see about that."
New England plays the Broncos Sunday. If Hightower is inactive, not only would it be the first missed start of his rookie career, it would be the first missed game.
The decision is out of his hands at this point.
"It's up to coach," Hightower said. "If he feels like I'm ready to go, then I'm going to go out there and I'm going to do what I can."

Pats' secondary coach: Butler 'is never going to give up the fight'

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Pats' secondary coach: Butler 'is never going to give up the fight'

FOXBORO -- Though he’s still fresh-faced, Patriots cornerback coach Josh Boyer has been on Bill Belichicks’ staff for a dozen years, including the last six presiding over the likes of Darrelle Revis, Aqib Talib, Brandon Browner and Logan Ryan. In all that time, he’s never seen anyone play the position as competitively as Malcolm Butler.

“I would say that’s unique,” Boyer told me today. “It’s one of those things that whether something happens right, wrong or indifferent on that play, you know he’s always gonna be competitive. I think that’s an attribute to just his personal makeup . . . I think all of our guys are competitive but Malcolm is never going to give up the fight no matter what stands in his way or what obstacles he has. He’s always going to be competitive.”

Butler had a unsettling offseason that actually traced all the way back to an in-season contract negotiation that came close but never got completed. When that offer remained the same, and then Stephon Gilmore was paid massive dollars on day one of free agency, Butler, a restricted free agent, shopped himself. But with New Orleans and other teams unwilling to pay the price of a first-round pick, Butler decided he had no choice and returned to Foxboro somewhat reluctantly.

"Can't predict the future," Butler said back on May 25. "Whatever happens, happens."

While Butler wouldn’t commit to wanting to be a Patriot long term, he has made every effort to once again establish himself as the team’s best cornerback while not letting an unsettling contractual situation play play havoc with his on-field performance.

“You guys probably talk about a lot of stuff that we never talk about so we’re just, I’ll give Malcolm credit,” said Boyer, “He’s here. He works hard. We don’t ever talk about other outside issues. It’s all football and I think his focus -- I talked to him yesterday when he was in the building -- he’s excited to be back, excited to work, excited to see what this season holds for him.”