Patriots

Belichick: Butler would be out there 'no matter who we had'

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Belichick: Butler would be out there 'no matter who we had'

To say that the difference in Malcolm Butler's role from last season to this one is "night and day" would be an understatement. 

Now the Patriots clear-cut No. 1 corner, Butler has played in all but five defensive snaps for the team thus far this season, and he has been on the field for every possible play for each of the last four games. In all, he's played in 351 defensive plays, often lined up across from an opposing team's best receiver. 

Contrast that with where Butler was at this time last year, and the numbers are staggering. Through five Patriots games in 2014, Butler was active for three, and he had played in a total of 66 snaps. 

During a conference call on Monday afternoon, it was mentioned to Patriots coach Bill Belichick that it seemed as though Butler had taken on a larger role this season. Before a question was asked, Belichick interjected, "There's no question about that."

Because the Patriots are now without some of their top corners from last year's Super Bowl-winning roster -- in particular Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner -- Butler has been thrust into a central role. An exceptional athlete with above-average makeup speed and strong ball skills, Butler has the traits to be a No. 1 cornerback. 

His season has been far from flawless, as he's allowed four touchdowns and over 16 yards per reception, according to Pro Football Focus. But he's also tallied six pass deflections and an interception, and it's a wonder where the Patriots secondary would be had it not found the Division 2 product out of West Alabama last year. 

"His role is that he's out on the field for almost every defensive play," Belichick said. "That's a big change from where it was last year. Malcolm's a good football player, and he's played very well for us both last year and this year. But given where we are in the secondary and the level of [his] improvement, I think no matter who we had on our team that he would be playing a lot of football for us.

"That's really a credit to him and how much he's improved from last year to this year. He's a good football player. He's playing well. He does a lot of good things for us, and there's still a lot of room for him to improve. I don't think he's hit the peak, but he's getting better and I thought he played well last night."

Shawne Merriman's hilarious Father's Day tweet will make Patriots fans smile

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USA TODAY Sports

Shawne Merriman's hilarious Father's Day tweet will make Patriots fans smile

Shawne Merriman is no fan of the New England Patriots, but his son's allegiances seems to differ a bit.

The former Los Angeles Chargers star posted a Father's Day tweet Sunday with a photo of his son getting ready to buy a Tom Brady Patriots jersey with a Super Bowl LI patch, and the three-time Pro Bowler's reaction is priceless. 

A Brady jersey probably is the last piece of NFL apparel that Merriman would want his son to buy, given his history with the Patriots.

Merriman still hasn't forgotten about the Patriots coming into San Diego and defeating the 14-2 Chargers in the 2006 AFC Divisional Round. It was the Chargers' best team in a long time, and after the Patriots won in dramatic fashion, some New England players mocked Merriman's sack dance during the on-field celebrations. Chargers players weren't happy at all.

But hey, props to Merriman's son, he knows greatness when he sees it. And he's not alone, evidenced by Brady once again leading all NFL players in royalties from sales of items including jerseys.

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Tom Brady is taking notes from Raptors' massive championship parade

Tom Brady is taking notes from Raptors' massive championship parade

The Raptors saw an estimated 1.5 million people flood the streets of Toronto on Wednesday for the team's first NBA championship parade.

Tom Brady's reaction? Challenge accepted.

Here's the New England Patriots quarterback's simple yet effective tweet upon seeing the massive turnout in Toronto:

Brady knows a thing or two about highly-attended championship parades: Roughly 1.5 million people came out in Boston just four months ago to watch the Patriots celebrate their sixth Super Bowl title.

That attendance number was a record for the city's many Patriots title parades, but it appears the Raptors matched that Monday.

So, Brady and Co. will just have to win a seventh championship to raise the bar yet again next February.

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