Reed's preference is to remain a Raven

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Reed's preference is to remain a Raven

NEW ORLEANS - Earlier this week, Ravens safety Ed Reed caused stirring when he said he'd like to play for Bill Belichick.
Reed said Thursday he meant that hypothetically, not as an intention.
"I was asked, would I play for BillBelichick? Yes. What football players wouldnt play for Coach Belichick? Will I be in New England? Most likely not," explained Reed. "Its just terrible that people get half the story. Itseven more bad when you hear the comments that they make towards you. But itcomes with it, man."Reed will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. The five-time All-Pro turns 35 next September. He's long been the gold standard for safety play in the mind of Belichick. So much so that quarterback Tom Brady has said Belichick acts like he wants to adopt Reed and change his name to Ed Belichick.
The Patriots play in the secondary improved in the latter half of 2012 but they're still sketchy back there. Reed's experience, if he ever did entertain a move to New England, would aid Devin McCourty immeasurably as McCourty makes the move to safety.
"I gotta lot of years in me," Reed told me Thursday. "I dont want to play till Im40. I always said my mark in the NFL is 35. I always said that if I feel I couldplay more, I would so Ive been doing a great job with my doctor. Since about twoor three years ago, since I had (hip) surgery thats the worst thing that reallyhit me. When I had the hip surgery thats when I really started to think aboutthings and I really felt better this year than the last two."One of the things that makes Reed so good is his ability to disguise his intentions and bait quarterbacks then make up ground. Does he still have the speed to do that?
"I can still cover ground with the best of them," Reed promised. "Im notgoing to say I can do it better than any other safety because we all havedifferent attributes that we bring to the table. But theres a reason why ... people dont throw my way, man. I still get that respecton the football field I can still play this game and when I cant, trust me,youll know." How will his decision-making unfold once he becomes a free agent?
"I take my time this offseason just like I did last offseasonand every offseason going forward," he said. "Its not a circus, its just me taking mytime, working out, always getting ready. If I get to August and I feel like Imin shape and I dont want to play, I wont do it. Thats not to any fan or anyorganization, but its me and my family and my body and how I feel. Im prettysure Ozzie and them will let us enjoy this season. Once we get everythingsituated Im sure well be talking. However long that process goes, we willknow." His first choice, though, is to remain a thorn in the Patriots' side.
"I always said when I came into the league and gotdrafted that I didnt want to be one of those guys jumping from team to team," hesaid. "If it was up to me, I would be right in Baltimore.If it happens to be somewhere else, I can play football on the moon.

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.