Pats notes: Belichick praises Schwartz; business as usual for Butler


Pats notes: Belichick praises Schwartz; business as usual for Butler

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game between the Patriots and Lions will bring about the reunion of Bill Belichick and Jim Schwartz.

Schwartz is now the head coach of the 2-8 Detroit Lions, but began his NFL coaching career by doing research for Belichick in the mid-90's while Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Schwartz' official title was "personnel scout" and while it doesn't sound like the most important position in the world, Belichick's praise of the Lions' current coach certainly speaks volumes about the work he did while in Cleveland.

"I've got a lot of respect for Jim," said Belichick in Monday's press conference at Gillette Stadium. "Jim's a real smart guy. He has a good background and personnel, as well as his coaching, and certainly as a defensive coordinator and a head coach. I think he's a guy that's really progressed in the overall game, and again, not just coaching, but personnel and making adjustments, and matchups, and those kinds of things.

"Jim is one of the smartest guys I've ever worked with," added Belichick. "He's a guy that could multi-task . . . He's the kind of person that if you gave him 20 things to do, he would be on top of all 20 of them, and know exactly where he was on all of them.

"This guy can handle a lot, and thinks very quickly. He sees concepts extremely well . . . He can get to the bottom of things in a hurry."

That will be an important trait, heading into Thursday's game, with only three days in between. But Belichick wasn't done praising Schwartz.

"Jim's got a good, upbeat personality," added Belichick. "He's got a lot of energy. He's very serious. I think Jim's got a wide array of skills. Personally, professionally, and intellectually, he can do a lot of different things. I don't see a lot of limitations with him. He's really special. I mean, I've had a lot of people work for me, and he's right up there at the top of the list, in terms of things that he can do."

--Cornerback Darius Butler has seen limited playing time this season, but on Sunday against the Colts, he played the entire second half at corner, while usual cornerback Kyle Arrington was used as an outside pass rusher the rest of the game.

Butler had been saying for weeks that he'd continue to practice hard, and that he'd be ready when his name was called. Looking back on his return on Sunday, Butler said he believes he did his job in a second half that saw the Colts out-score the Pats 14-3 in the fourth quarter.

"It's always exciting to get back out there, especially when you miss it right after you're hurt and you're out for a couple of weeks, or when you're on the bench," said Butler. "Whenever you get back out on the field, especially in a big game like that, it's definitely exciting.

"I mean, I felt like I was right where I needed to be, as far as being ready to play. I always said I'd be ready to play when my number's called, and I felt like I was."

Going forward, Butler isn't sure what his role will be, but he won't change a thing, because that type of uncertainty with his playing time has been a season-long mental battle.

"It's the same thing for me," said Butler. "Business as usual. Just practicing hard and being ready to play whenever my number's called."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip


Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on its own feel, its own flavor and - eventually - its own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out


Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.


Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: