Emergence of Malcolm Butler making Patriots secondary even more crowded
|08.18.14 at 11:10 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots secondary is a crowded one with plenty of moving parts.
There’s no question Darrelle Revis has one cornerback spot locked down and Devin McCourty one safety spot, but the other positions are seemingly up for grabs — especially with cornerback Brandon Browner being suspended for the first four games of the season.
It’s been hard not to notice the number of players playing along side McCourty at safety during training camp — Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon and even cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan have seen time there.
Belichick noted the cornerbacks could be seeing time at the safety position this year based on the opponents offensive formation.
“Logan’s played some safety for us in the past, so has Kyle,” Belichick said on last Saturday’s conference call. ‘They’ve both played that position ‘ that fourth defensive back. It’s not really anything that’s that new to them. It definitely has a lot of carryover for them from when we are in our nickel defense and they play in the slot.”
The two players’ versatility certainly gives them more value than strictly playing the cornerback position, but the team does have two other cornerbacks — Alfonzo Dennard and rookie Malcolm Butler.
Dennard hasn’t appeared in a game after working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, while Butler — an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama — has made the most of his playing time.
After a strong Week 1 performance against Washington, Butler recorded seven tackles and a forced fumble in last Friday’s win against the Eagles. He’s also made a number of plays in practice, including forcing a fumble against Rob Gronkowski on Monday.
“I come out to compete every time I step on the field — practice, game time — I’m ready to compete every time,” Butler said. “I made a couple good plays, but there is still things to work on. There were two good plays that I think helped the team out, but I think I can do more and we’re just trying to get better as a unit. If you make a couple good plays and then you make a couple of bad plays, you really erased your good plays.”
While there is a competition between the players in the secondary, many still take the time to help one another out, especially a rookie like Butler — something he never thought would ever happen while he was at playing Div. 2 West Alabama.
“They help you out. We help each other out. They help the rookies out,” said Butler. “At the same time it’s still business. It’s still a job and everyone is competing. It’s an honor to be playing with Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington — I was watching those guys when I never thought I would be here. I was looking up to all of them.”
With only 12 days until the final 53-man roster is finalized, there is plenty to consider with Browner’s suspension, the versatility of some corners as well as the emergence of Butler.
“I only can control the things that I am allowed to so I’m just staying focus on what I have to do, which is doing my job being a cornerback,” said Butler.