Patriots notebook: Butler leading and learning back after four seasons away from Patriots


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Even though it’s been four years since Malcolm Butler last played for New England and more than a year since he played in the NFL, the former and possibly future starting cornerback of the Patriots played more cliches into coach Bill Belichick’s system than many of the team’s defensive backs making him an old and a newcomer, a learner and a leader all rolled into one.

“I lead by example. I speak less. I lead by making plays,” said the 32-year-old, who moved up to No. 4 after wearing No. 21 during his previous stint with the Pats.

Four seasons after leaving the Patriots following his surprising Super Bowl benching, he’s back. He sat out last year after signing with the Cardinals and then retired.

“It feels natural. We feel like at home. This is my home,” said Butler, who played his final three seasons at Tennessee from 2018-2020. He says he feels physically comfortable since his return. “I feel good. I’m not in pain at all. I’m just catching up. I’m here competing. Getting in shape. Learning defense. Just here for fun.

With JC Jackson gone and Jonathan Jones coming off a season-ending injury. Butler could be an important part of the defensive field both for his play and his leadership. He said he spoke to the rookie DBs on the team.

“I had a few words with them. I told them you were going to have a good day. You are going to have bad days. Just keep working,” Butler said. “I tell them they have potential. I try to help young people. They can come to me. I am an open book. They look good. They are still rookies. They still have a lot to learn. »

He said he also had things to learn. The defense is similar, but not quite the same as when he left.

“It has different things,” Butler said. “But whatever they put on paper, I have to learn and go out and perform on the pitch. I like it.”

RHAMONDRE STEVENSON is visibly slimmer as he enters his second training camp. When asked how this July was different from his rookie year, the running back’s response was pragmatic.

“I’m in good shape,” Stevenson replied. “I can run a lot more. I just feel better overall.

A year ago, Stevenson admitted he “wasn’t really in great shape”. So he spent that offseason working with a trainer in Dallas and seeing a nutritionist. Stevenson has lost 7 pounds, reported camping at 225, and feels like he’s carrying a much healthier weight overall.

“I think I’ve gotten a lot leaner…after today and all that sweat, I’m probably 215,” Stevenson joked after a wet camp session.

Stevenson caught a few passes out of the backfield on Thursday morning and he’s focused on becoming a full back in 2022.

“I did a lot of things: run routes and improve with my hands. Pass protected. All of the above,” Stevenson said.

IN HIS First NFL training camp, Cole Strange found one thing easier to play for the Patriots than at FCS school Tennessee-Chattanooga: the weather.

“The weather is much nicer. There were two or three weeks in June where it was around 60 degrees,” said Strange, a Tennessee native. “I talked to my dad and it was like 105 (in Tennessee) and I was like, ‘Thank God I’m here. “”

It’s been very hot in New England this week with temperatures reaching over 90 degrees, as Strange prepares for his rookie season after the Patriots took him first overall. He was one of the few offensive linemen not to wear gloves.

“Maybe I’m just weird, but when I put on gloves it’s just another layer of warmth,” said Strange, who swapped his minicamp beard for a mustache. “Maybe it will be different here when it’s cold and I want to put on gloves and long sleeves. In the south, it’s warm in the winter, so whatever I can’t wear, I do.

Strange’s playful talk about the weather was indicative of a rookie, who seems comfortable so far.

“It’s going well. Hard, but as expected. I’m learning a lot right now. Making sure I know my missions. Everyone is bigger, faster, stronger. There’s a lot more to learn “, he said. “Honestly, I feel pretty good. It’s just to make sure you are familiar with your missions.

Strange said he’s learning from the Patriots’ past and present strengths. He talks to David Andrews and Trent Brown by his side while watching outstanding former guards film.

“We have a good room. The guys help the recruits. We have questions,” said Strange, who studied the cinema of Logan Mankins and Joe Thuney. “Some of the parts film we’re installing is old film, so we’ll see some of these guys.”

The training heat numbers will rise next week when players are allowed into the pads after the mandatory five-day ramp-up ends. He said he had no opinion on the NFL’s progression rules at camp.

“I do whatever they want us to do. If they want us to increase slowly, we will. If they want us to bang our heads on the ground, we will do that too,” he said. “I’m just ready for anything. Honestly, I’m just happy to be there.

ONCE AGAIN it was DeVante Parker who stole the show on day 2 of training camp.

In a 7-on-7 drill, Mac Jones made a back shoulder throw to the right corner of the end zone where Parker was heavily covered by defensive back Jalen Mills. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver dived, grabbed the ball and narrowly put both feet down for the touchdown.

“Mac sees where the defender is,” Parker said. “He put it in a great place.”

Parker’s teammates and the crowd went wild.

“Everyone is pissed off,” Parker said. “You like this.”

This atmosphere at training camp is different from the one Parker experienced during his years playing with the Miami Dolphins and it was clear he was feeding on the energy of the crowd.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Parker said. “Have fun, hang out with your brothers and work hard every day.”

Mills has been paired with Parker on numerous drills over the first two days of camp and is excited about what Parker brings to the Patriots offense.

“Great energy,” Mills said. “A tall, tall guy. Really liked (Wednesday when) he scored that touchdown, and he kind of got the crowd going. You want to see this.

Parker was the star of the opening day of camp Wednesday, making three hard-fought catches in the end zone.

“It’s good to have him and he’s had a good spring,” Belichick said before practice Thursday. “We’re just going to take it day by day here and I’m not trying to rate guys based on game or practice or period. There’s going to be a lot of football played, and we’ll see how things play out over a long period of time. Consistency and production.

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