By Danny Picard
FOXBORO -- Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game between the Patriots and Lions will bring about the reunion of Bill Belichick and Jim Schwartz.
Schwartz is now the head coach of the 2-8 Detroit Lions, but began his NFL coaching career by doing research for Belichick in the mid-90's while Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Schwartz' official title was "personnel scout" and while it doesn't sound like the most important position in the world, Belichick's praise of the Lions' current coach certainly speaks volumes about the work he did while in Cleveland.
"I've got a lot of respect for Jim," said Belichick in Monday's press conference at Gillette Stadium. "Jim's a real smart guy. He has a good background and personnel, as well as his coaching, and certainly as a defensive coordinator and a head coach. I think he's a guy that's really progressed in the overall game, and again, not just coaching, but personnel and making adjustments, and matchups, and those kinds of things.
"Jim is one of the smartest guys I've ever worked with," added Belichick. "He's a guy that could multi-task . . . He's the kind of person that if you gave him 20 things to do, he would be on top of all 20 of them, and know exactly where he was on all of them.
"This guy can handle a lot, and thinks very quickly. He sees concepts extremely well . . . He can get to the bottom of things in a hurry."
That will be an important trait, heading into Thursday's game, with only three days in between. But Belichick wasn't done praising Schwartz.
"Jim's got a good, upbeat personality," added Belichick. "He's got a lot of energy. He's very serious. I think Jim's got a wide array of skills. Personally, professionally, and intellectually, he can do a lot of different things. I don't see a lot of limitations with him. He's really special. I mean, I've had a lot of people work for me, and he's right up there at the top of the list, in terms of things that he can do."
--Cornerback Darius Butler has seen limited playing time this season, but on Sunday against the Colts, he played the entire second half at corner, while usual cornerback Kyle Arrington was used as an outside pass rusher the rest of the game.
Butler had been saying for weeks that he'd continue to practice hard, and that he'd be ready when his name was called. Looking back on his return on Sunday, Butler said he believes he did his job in a second half that saw the Colts out-score the Pats 14-3 in the fourth quarter.
"It's always exciting to get back out there, especially when you miss it right after you're hurt and you're out for a couple of weeks, or when you're on the bench," said Butler. "Whenever you get back out on the field, especially in a big game like that, it's definitely exciting.
"I mean, I felt like I was right where I needed to be, as far as being ready to play. I always said I'd be ready to play when my number's called, and I felt like I was."
Going forward, Butler isn't sure what his role will be, but he won't change a thing, because that type of uncertainty with his playing time has been a season-long mental battle.
"It's the same thing for me," said Butler. "Business as usual. Just practicing hard and being ready to play whenever my number's called."
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard