Butler hopes 'Dirty Show' title earns him playing time


Butler hopes 'Dirty Show' title earns him playing time

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- They call it the "Dirty Show" championship belt. This week, it's sitting in the locker of cornerback Darius Butler.

Butler has seen a shortage of playing time this season, and has even been benched in favor of rookie Devin McCourty and sophomore Kyle Arrington.

But this week, Butler is the reigning Dirty Show champ -- the title given to the Patriots' practice player of the week.

So what exactly do you have to do to earn the belt?

"Practice hard and make plays out there, and that's what I've been doing the last couple of weeks," said Butler after Friday's practice at Gillette Stadium. "Just trying to be physically and mentally prepared every day."

Earlier on Friday, coach Bill Belichick said Butler is still "in the mix." But he added anyone who's active for the game is in the same boat.

"He had a good week of practice," said Belichick. "He did a good job. He got his hands on a lot of balls. He made it hard on our offense.

"I think every player that's active, they're in the mix. If they're active for the game, then you have some role in the game. Whether that materializes or not, that depends on the situations in the game. Anybody that's active for the game, we have confidence putting them in the game. They have a role, and we expect them to do well, if they're inserted in that role."

Butler hopes that his successful week of practice pays off, and earns him some more playing time on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

After all, he is the Dirty Show champ.

"I'm always ready," said Butler. "I go out and practice every day like I'm going to be a starter. You never know what happens, if it's a game plan thing or an injury thing, or anything. You can be thrown in there, in the mix anytime."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl


Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

NFL Siberia can’t be all that bad. The Cleveland Browns have signed Jamie Collins to an extension that keeps him off the free agent market.

The former Patriot, stunningly shipped out of town on Halloween, has agreed to a reported four-year, $50 million deal with $26M in guaranteed money.

As eyebrow-raising as the move was at the time, this is an all’s well that ends well story.

Collins, a reluctant Patriot once it came clear the team wouldn’t to aim a confetti cannon of money at him, gets the desired big-dough deal. He didn’t drape himself in glory with his level of play this year in New England, but his agitation over making $900K this year was understandable.

The Patriots -- who made the deal not knowing exactly how it would work out with Collins’ fleet of replacements (primarily rookie Elandon Roberts and, October acquisition Kyle Van Noy) -- have played better defense since Collins has been gone and are headed to the Super Bowl.

Would they have been better if Collins stayed? The answer to that is a question: Which version of Collins, the irked one or the motivated one?

Collins did nothing to veil his desire for a huge contract, saying at the end of the season he’d stay with the hapless Browns if the money was right. Now that he’s decided the money was right, what kind of Collins will the Browns get? With $26M guaranteed, the Browns have tethered themselves to the 27-year-old Collins for a chunk of his prime. The shorter term is ideal for Collins because -- if he performs to his capability -- he’ll be able to see another lucrative deal before he’s too aged.

The deal will certainly be noticed by Collins’ former teammates, primarily Donta Hightower who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Patriots could franchise Hightower (last year’s tag number was more than $14M) but that’s not going to be ideal for either side. Hightower will want to get the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal and the Patriots may be reluctant to pay that much to a player that’s got an injury history and plays one of the game’s most violent positions.

A lot’s going to happen between now and the time the Patriots have to make their decision. A good deal of it will happen in the next 12 days. If Hightower stealthily saves the Super Bowl as he did in 2014 with his first-down tackle on Marshawn Lynch … how do you put a price on that?