Butler, Patriots’ secondary impresses Saints in joint practice


Butler, Patriots’ secondary impresses Saints in joint practice

FOXBORO - It’s not easy to play defensive back in a league that not only wants their quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns every week, but has tilted the rules to favor this previously unseen offensive explosion league-wide. 

How many times have you watched a game and wondered if a cornerback can even lay a hand on a wide receiver and escape without a penalty? It’s getting rarer than a great steak from Davio’s, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t players in the NFL who aren’t throwbacks to another place and time where physicality was not only encouraged but allowed.

Take Malcolm Butler for instance. The Pats’ third-year corner is not the biggest player, but he takes pride in getting his hands on opposing wideouts and control them on their release. The Saints’ Willie Snead got a hard lesson today in joint practices.

In 11-on-11 red area work, Butler got in Snead’s face when he lined up in the slot, had his hands into Snead’s chest within the first full step of his release and immediately knocked Snead off balance. The talented receiver tried to get back into his route but Butler stayed on him, again assaulting Snead with his hands to prevent the 69-catch and near 1,000-yard receiver from a season ago to get to his proper depth on a crossing route. 

Butler punctuated the play by once again jabbing Snead while he was still within that 5-yard halo of the initial line of scrimmage. 

The result was an incomplete pass and Butler preening in an agitated Snead’s face. Saints coach Sean Payton took notice, not just of that play, but the aggressive nature of the Pats in pass coverage all morning.

“I thought by and large we struggled at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “New England does a real good job with their press technique and their disrupting of the passing game, so whether it was the tight ends or receivers, we’ve got to be better separating and handling some of the man to man coverage looks we get.”

That kind of chatter is music to safety Devin McCourty’s ears. 

“It’s a big part of what we do,” the Pats safety noted. “I think if you watch us, you know that’s something we coach a lot here and every guy that comes in, whether it’s the starters or a guy that comes off the bench, everybody is playing the same way, same mentality.”

That’s why these joint practices are a much welcome break from the monotony of training camp sessions against teammates.

“Our offense is a different offense, this week [it’s] New Orleans,” said McCourty. “We gotta kinda get that going. We did a good job of coming out and being aggressive - obviously it wasn’t perfect - but I think we came out with the right mentality that will get us better as a group and we can work on.”

I’m not sure that’s what Willie Snead wants to hear.

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Patriots advance to AFC title game vs. Jaguars


BEST OF BST PODCAST: Patriots advance to AFC title game vs. Jaguars

0:41 - Tom Curran and Albert Breer discuss some of the big takeaways from the Patriots win over the Titans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

4:49 - Jalen Ramsey told the fans in Jacksonville that the Jaguars would be going to the Super Bowl. Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith talk about if they have a problem with what Ramsey said and if the Patriots would be using his quote as bulletin board material.

9:25 - Curran, Breer, and Giles discuss Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels likely not returning with the Patriots as Patricia seems to be headed towards the Lions while McDaniels goes to the Colts.

14:06 - Michael Hurley joins BST to preview the Jaguars/Patriots matchup and discuss the Patriots schedule and road to the Super Bowl. 

Patriots react to Ramsey's guarantee: He should be confident


Patriots react to Ramsey's guarantee: He should be confident

FOXBORO -- Patriots players didn't seem all that bothered by Jalen Ramsey's proclamation that the Jaguars would win the AFC title game and head to Minnesota for the Super Bowl. 

"I ain't got too much to say, but y'all make sure you bring that same energy out here next week and the week after," Ramsey said in Jacksonville following his team's win in Pittsburgh. "We're going to the Super Bowl and we're going to win that (expletive). We're going to win that (expletive)."

Asked about those comments on Monday, Patriots captain Matthew Slater showed no hint of disapproval. 

"Man, that guy’s really good," Slater said. "And he should be confident, because he’s very, very good. The good Lord made that guy, and he said, ‘Let there be corner.’ And there he is. I’d be confident if I were him, as well."

Ramsey was named a First-Team All-Pro for his work on the outside opposite Second-Team All-Pro corner AJ Bouye. They make up arguably the best cornerback duo in football, and Ramsey has already established himself as one of the best at his position despite being just 23 years old and in his second pro season.

"Hey, man, Jalen Ramsey’s a good player," Patriots captain Duron Harmon said. "He talks a lot of trash. That’s part of his game, and you can’t take that away from him. He’s confident. He should be confident in his team. He has a really good football team. The top two AFC teams are left, and he’s a part of one of them.

"His approach to the game is different than ours, but we can’t knock him for it. We know they’re going to come ready to play, and we’ve just got to match their type of physicality and also just their emotion and their readiness to get ready to play."

Ramsey's best work as a trash-talker came eariler this season after he shut down Bengals wideout AJ Green. What he said about the AFC Championship was certainly a step (or several) below that in terms of its intensity, and judging by their reaction Monday, it seems to be a mere blip on the Patriots' radar.