Monday, August 11, 2014

Butler continues opening eyes, yet Mallett still not spotted at Patriots' practice

If Malcolm Butler isn't careful, he may just find himself employed in Foxborough.

The position that he's been auditioning for since late July is something of a thankless trade at times.  It's hard, physical labor with long hours and you're required to work Sundays - but the pay is good and you're actually encouraged to vent your frustrations - and for an undrafted rookie free agent out of West Alabama, there is no better job on the earth.
Gronkowski getting work in against Revis in 7-on-7 drills

Butler again took first-team reps opposite Darrelle Revis in the New England Patriots' secondary in practice on Monday, building on what is already an impressive camp resume.  The standout rookie took Kenbrell Thompkins to task in the afternoon session, at one point undercutting the second-year receiver on an out-pattern and picked off the football cleanly.

In the Redskins' loss last Thursday and in the two practices since, Butler has distanced himself from every cornerback on the roster with the exception of Revis (of course!), with his instinctive reads and explosive breaks on balls in the air and if he maintains the now status quo, he could see significant time with the regulars come Friday night when the Patriots host the Philadelphia Eagles in the second preseason tilt for both clubs.

Butler continues to open eyes in camp
“I think he’s done a good job every day, coming out there being ready to compete,” Belichick offered in his pre-practice comments. “He’s a got a long way to go. He’s got a lot to learn. There are a lot of things different here than where he played and who he played against. He’s learning every day, he works hard, and he’s gotten better on a daily basis.

Pretty standard fare for the dark master, whose monotone droll included a hasty response to a question regarding the status of both Aaron Dobson, who was on the PUP list, and for Dominique Easley, who has been on the non-football injury list since the start of camp, stating, "They’re making good progress."

Take note of that blurb from Belichick, because not 15 minutes later, both players were dressed in Jerseys and participating in position drills - a heavy occurrence that clears up some of the ambiguity on their status going forward.

Which is something that can not be said about second-team quarterback Ryan Mallett, who has not seen the practice field since Thursday night's debacle in Maryland.  Belichick addressed Mallett's status somewhat by assessing him as "day-to-day".  It is widely assumed that Mallett tweaked his knee when he planted into the turf at FedEx field while attempting to slide.
Easley in camp on Tuesday

In his stead, rookie Jimmy Garoppolo got some extended reps, doing well in 11-on-11 drills, but stinking up the joint in 7-on-7's.  This latest development with Mallett could have far-reaching effects on his status, particularly if Garoppolo, who had a sensational debut against the Redskins, lights it up against the Eagles on Friday night, a game in which he figured to play at least a half, probably more.

And while the rookie for Eastern Illinois probably wont' be throwing any passes to Dobson in the near future as he continues to progress, neither will he be throwing to tight end Rob Gronkowski - but the monstrously talented man-child cleared another hurdle in his recovery from ACL surgery as he participated in his first team drill this afternoon, going against Revis in 7-on-7's...

...his red "no-contact" jersey doubling as a big cherry on top of a very eventful day on the practice fields at Gillette.

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