Quick Hits: A wild day at Gillette

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Quick Hits: A wild day at Gillette

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran FOXBORO - Albert and Ocho. What's the worst that could happen? Well, for starters, say Ocho and the quarterback pile onto Albert's boat. And the head coach too. Of course he'll be there because he and Ocho are boys. Albert opens it up a little bit and the next thing you know they're going 145 when they T-bone Codzilla in Boston Harbor. While Ocho's water skiing. And Belichick's fishing. And Brady's sunning himself on the quarterdeck. And it doesn't work out so good for any of them. But aside from that? Not much, right? Here are some quick hits from a bizarre day to start the 2011 Patriots season.
1. INSIDE KNOWLEDGEWhen the Patriots decided to pull the trigger on Haynesworth, two things had to happen. The price had to be right - a fifth-round pick and a renegotiated deal with no guaranteed money was right. And there had to be people willing to vouch for him. One of them, no doubt, was Floyd Reese. The Patriots' Senior Football Adviser drafted Haynesworth out of Tennessee and was with Haynesworth for the entirety of the player's career in Tennessee. The other was likely Jim Schwartz, head coach of the Lions and Haynesworth's defensive coordinator with the Titans. Belichick is not shy about gathering and sharing information with people in the coaching fraternity, especially if they are far removed from New England. And with Schwartz as head coach of the Lions, there was sufficient buffer. A call to Schwartz hasn't yet been returned, but here's what he had to say about Haynesworth last year after one of the DTs rare productive games for the Redskins. "It's him playing in a 4-3. It's him being disruptive, attacking blockers, knocking them back, affecting the run and the pass," Schwartz said after watching tape of Haynesworth ruining the Bears offense last October. "I mean, he was hard to handle one-on-one. Those are the things I remember about Albert. He affected that game."When he gets moving, he's very difficult to block. He is a guy that's a very good athlete, he's a very smart football player, and he's tremendously big. And you combine all three of those, and it's very difficult to block him. That's one of the reasons, like I said, that he had so much success. That's one of the reasons he had so much success last week. And again, it's one of the reasons he was in such demand as a draft pick and also a free agent."2. See What Condition His Condition Is InGiven Haynesworth's disinterest in playing for Mike Shanahan in Washington last season, it's hard to imagine he's been working out like a fiend to get ready for 2011. That will be one of the biggest issues he'll face when joining the Patriots. You figure he won't be on the field until he passes his conditioning test, although if he does fail it, he may be out there for mental reps. As big as Vince Wilfork is, he is in tremendous cardiovascular shape and rarely misses practice. That hasn't been Haynesworth's modus operandi. We'll see if it changes. 3. Ocho's Barstool ExclusiveNews is news and one of the most revealing insights into the fact that Ochocinco gets the difference between his "brand" and being a football player was given to Dave Portnoy (aka El Presidente) at Barstool Sports. In Miami recently, Portnoy talked to Ochocinco at a Skyy Vodka party. The mostrelevant part was Ocho talking about assimilating into the system in New England. (It's kind of stream-of-consciousness, but what the hell . . . you get what he's saying). "A lot of people say my style of play would be weird in that system but the thing they dont realize is that I dont have to be Chad Johnson," he told Portnoy. "I dont have to be Ochocino in the media, because Im finally getting what Ive wanted. Winning. Winning."Listen, I create this party, I create this guy that loves football thats like a little kid out there. I know I get to camp July 26, when January gets here Im done. So Im trying to cram as much(flipping) fun as possible into the games as I can. Listen, Im just saying, yo, I wouldnt have to do that (stuff). I wouldnt have to celebrate. Celebrate for what? Ill score 30(flipping) times! They wouldnt have a(flipping) chance! You know? You understand what Im saying?Belichick knows me, see, this is what I love about the New England Patriots. Im close to that man on a personal level, they already know that behind the fun, behind the celebrations, they know how hard I work. Theyre the ones . . . theyre the ones ESPN wanna say, Oh he cant play no more. Ask the players there next time you see em. Ask Belichick next time you see him."We'll do that Friday. 4. Light's On?No word yet on whether the Patriots will retain Matt Light as they hope to. He hasn't been linked to any other teams and the Globe's Greg Bedard reported Thursday that the Patriots are nearing a deal. That's all for Thursday. We'll be back at it in the morning. We'll have Belichick around 9:30 and Brady after practice.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

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Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

This hasn’t been easy for Malcolm Butler. None of it. He’s never been given anything. Hell, at times he’s pissed his future away. But with a tenacity that reminds you of a certain 199th pick in the 2000 draft, Butler has fought his way back, into college, into the pros and, in 2015 and 2016, into the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champ, making arguably the most memorable play in the history of that game.

He should be drinking in the adulation, savoring an incredible start to his career and a very lucrative future. Instead, he’s in both professional and Patriots purgatory. Free agency beckons but there’s a season to play, and as this is the only professional team he’s known, a burning desire to be recognized as an important piece, not just in the present, but the future of this organization as well.
 
One of his closest friends on the team, Dion Lewis, calls Butler a warrior. “The game means so much to him.”

Another teammate, fellow defensive back Devin McCourty said of Butler, “This is what he does. He competes.”

Duron Harmon insists that the 27-year-old corner has been the same guy he’s always been. Actually, they all say that. But clearly, the coaching staff sees something different, leading to Butler’s demotion Sunday in New Orleans. 
 
Bill Belichick has been short when talking about Butler dating all the way back to the spring. That hasn’t changed now that the games count. He’s dismissed past performance. All that matters is how you’re playing now. Butler has not established that same level. Why? There is no easy answer.
 
The lack of a new contract cuts deeply. The unsettling offseason -- was he going to be a Saint? -- left quite a mark as well. But Butler came back to Foxboro with purpose, reporting for voluntary workouts. He was hell-bent on proving to all -- Belichick included -- that he was still the lead dog, not Stephon Gillmore, despite the $31 million dollars in guaranteed money the organization forked over to the former Buffalo Bill.
 
That strategy worked for a time. Butler was one of the Pats best players in training camp, right up until the joint practices with the Texans midway through August. What happened? Butler doesn’t know. But one mistake became two. His play in the preseason game with Houston was poor. His confidence suffered. He started pressing. That didn’t help. Butler was just as bad at Detroit. The kid that had always answered a knockdown with one of his own, instead wobbled to his feet. The inconsistencies were evident in practice but the "he's-Malcolm-he'll-fix-it" thought process that teammates echoed didn’t prove true, at least not entirely.
 
According to Eric Rowe, the cornerbacks were informed of the role change at the beginning of last week. But other teammates said they didn’t realize Butler wasn’t starting until the walkthrough Saturday. The ensuing fallout wasn’t surprising -- HE’S MALCOLM BUTLER, SUPER BOWL HERO, DAMMIT -- but the worry around the team has been justified because Butler takes things to heart. His swagger comes from the game. That was stripped away prior to the game against the Saints, and even at the beginning of this week, leading into the Texans game. Butler had to get his head right. If his meeting with the media Thursday is an indication, he has.

But the proof is in the play. Butler has always known that. And while his play didn’t warrant a role reduction, another message has been sent by the powers that be in Foxboro. What happens next is all on Butler. His future depends on it.

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Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

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Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

FOXBORO -- Anyone hoping to see Vincent Valentine make his season debut got some bad news Friday. 

Valentine, who has been inactive for both of the Patriots' first two games with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve. ESPN's Field Yates was first to report the news.

With Valentine on IR, Geneo Grissom was added to the roster from the practice squad. ESPN's Mike Reiss had that one first:

Valentine, whom the Pats chose 96th overall in 2016, has not been practicing with the team as he's dealt with the knee injury.

A third-round pick of the Pats in 2015, Grissom was released by the team in September and signed to the practice squad a day later.