Tag Archives: Adam Butler

New England Patriots Training Camp Primer: Defensive Line

Steve Balestrieri
July 17, 2017 at 6:30 am ET

Versatility and Physicality Mark The Pats DL

The Patriots head into training camp in ten days and there should be no shortage of competition at a number of spots. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we’ll break down the positions and give our take on who is a lock, a near lock for the 53-man roster and who is on the bubble. Next up on our primers is the Defensive Line position.

Bill Belichick likes to say that the spring’s OTAs and Minicamp is a learning exercise and that the real competition begins in training camp. With a roster of 90 players and no cuts needed before the final 53-man roster cut down, there will be plenty of time for evaluation.

So, we’re going to look at the Patriots Defensive Line and how they shake out. There is much versatility here and that what makes the Patriots defense so effective. In a sack driven league, they’re rather pedestrian at them despite leading the league in points against in 2016.

DL Malcom Brown will be expected to be more consistent in 2017. (SBalestrieri photo)

It wasn’t smoke and mirrors, the team uses a variety of different looks and squeezes offenses from running the ball and then with their pass rushers, do not let opponents out of the pocket where big plays tend to happen. They demand their edge players set the edge first, they’re not and have never been a “sell-out” pass rush team.

The team lost defensive ends, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long, this spring but drafted two younger guys in Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise while picking up Kony Ealy from the Panthers in a steal of a trade, during the NFL Draft. The team also picked up the versatile and underrated Lawrence Guy from Baltimore. Trey Flowers was arguably their best DL down the stretch and into the playoffs and Alan Branch was outstanding all season.

Roster Locks: Trey Flowers, Kony Ealy, Rob Ninkovich, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown
Everything starts with the big men in the middle and Branch and Brown were very good in 2016. Branch frequently plays over the center and is outstanding at stuffing the run. Brown is as well. Their job is to force everything outside where the defensive ends and linebackers are supposed to clean it up. They each got a little bit of push in the passing game but that is something that Brown could do a bit more of as well as be more consistent in 2017.

Patriots rookie DE Deatrich Wise in action at minicamp in June. (SBalestrieri photo)

Ealy will be an intriguing guy to watch this year. He’s in a contract year and has been given a clean slate by the coaches in New England.  The biggest knock against him was that he didn’t buy in when he was in Carolina. He seems to be doing that right off the bat here, which is a good sign. When he’s on, he’s a difficult man to block. Just rewind to Super Bowl L and watch him against the Broncos.

Big things are expected of Flowers this season, and after the way he finished 2016, he seems to be the go-to guy in the pass rush. Flowers, like many others in the Pats defense, is versatile and can rush from the edge or push inside as an interior pass rusher.

Ninkovich is a guy who is always at his best in clutch situations. He may be losing a step but he’s another versatile guy who can line up as a defensive end or drop as an outside linebacker.

Rob Ninkovich has been a clutch performer for the Patriots defense. (SBalestrieri photo)

Rivers and Wise by virtue of their draft stock are untouchable this season. Rivers is another guy who can play DE or OLB and was the Patriots top draft choice this season. Wise is another big DE in the Patriots mold that is an edge setter first and a pass rusher second. He was hurt in his senior season in college but had a very impressive 2015.

With the depth listed above, these rookie edge players, they won’t have a ton of pressure put on them to produce much this season. They will be able to learn the defense, get used to the speed of the pro game and get some reps here and there.

Near Roster Locks: Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine
Valentine showed some nice flashes last year in his rookie campaign. He’s another big body who can stuff the run on the inside. Guy is a versatile, movable piece and plays the 1-technique or out to the 5-technique. He seems like he’s going to be a nice fit in the Patriots defense. We’ll have to see if he can translate that to the field.

It is going to take some hard work from the guys below to unseat either of these two players. But stranger things have happened. Unless someone gets hurt or a case of the Foxboro Flu.

On the Bubble: Geneo Grissom, Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Josh Augusta, Adam Butler
The clock is running out on Geneo Grissom. He’s a guy that was drafted ahead of Flowers and was thought to have all kinds of versatility. But it hasn’t happened for him, he’s been unable to make a dent in the defense. Hamilton made the team a year ago but with the addition of Guy from the Ravens, he’s going to have to turn it up… a lot.

Augusta is a big-body, run stuffer in the Vince Wilfork mold, he’s listed at 6’0, 335-pounds…which may be wishful thinking. Passing the conditioning test on Day 1 will be a tough task for the big man, who failed to complete a lap during minicamp…twice.

Butler is a definite under the radar guy. Signed as a UDFA from Vanderbilt, the 6’4, 305-pound DL can be a run-stuffing tackle or a penetrator from the interior on passing downs. He played OL in college before switching over. He’ll be a guy to watch to see if he can turn some heads.

Kilgo was drafted by Denver and appeared in 18 games in two seasons before being released last November. The Pats signed the big 6’3, 320 DL to the practice squad where he spent the remaining part of the season.

Our next primer will have the Patriots Linebackers… stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Daily Notebook: Monday Patriots News and Notes 5/1

Ian Logue
May 1, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

After a busy weekend, here’s a look at this morning’s top stories:

Quality over Quantity In the 2017 Draft For the Patriots – The NFL Draft is typically one of the biggest weekends of the year for most Patriots fans who follow it intently, but given how few picks New England finished with in terms of selections (4), it will certainly go down as one of the most memorable due to how few they walked away with.

As Mike Reiss of ESPN pointed out on Sunday the four selections tied the 1995 San Francisco 49ers for the fewest draft picks by a defending Super Bowl champion, but New England seemingly made the most of the players they came away with.

They grabbed two offensive linemen and two defensive ends this weekend, infusing youth into two important positions for this team.

In Antonio Garcia and Conor McDermott the Patriots have two young players they can begin grooming for the tackle position on the offensive line, whether it’s for an eventual replacement for Nate Solder or simply to add quality depth in case of injury to either Solder or Marcus Cannon.  Protecting Brady is obviously a priority as the quarterback turns 40 and after losing right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who seems appears poised to retire, it’s a wise move for a team that is lacking depth behind their two starters.

In Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise Jr. the Patriots have two young defensive ends to help boost their pass rush, which is certainly good news for a team that has had their share of trouble getting to the quarterback.  Rob Ninkovich has played a lot of snaps over his career and at 33 may not have many seasons left, so developing players behind him is a good move.  Should either player emerge into a role player in 2017, it will only be that much better.

Overall, it’s not a bad draft for a team that was already in good shape thanks to what has been a pretty strong offseason. Thanks to this weekend, they’ve grabbed some terrific young pieces for the future, which if they pan out, will be another reminder of the quality of work that continues to be done by Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio and New England’s scouting department.


Conor McDermott brings versatility to New England.

McDermott Has Versatility, NFL Pedigree Working For Him – While we spotlighted Wise Jr. on Sunday and the fact his father is a former NFL player, recently drafted tackle Conor McDermott also falls into that category.

His brother, Kevin, is a long-snapper for the Vikings, which is a skill that McDermott claims is also in his arsenal, as well as the fact he’s had plenty of experience as a tight end.

“I used to long snap in high school,” said McDermott during his conference call on Saturday.  “And I did some back up during my college career.”

He also said that he was a tight end for his entire life prior to moving over to tackle in college.

“I was a tight end my whole life and then when I got to UCLA they moved me right to tackle, and then I did some tackle-tight end formations and some goal line and short-yardage for my first two years before I became a full-time left-tackle starter,” he said.

McDermott went on to say that he’s familiar with Nate Solder after having studied him in college, and he admitted he’s “been a fan of his for a while”.  He also went on to say he’s looking forward to meeting him.

The rookie also said that there’s some good chemistry between he and fellow draft pick Antonio Garcia, with the two having spent time working together at the Senior Bowl.

“We spent a good amount of time together,” said McDermott. “We were on the same team and practiced together every day, watched film together in meetings. He’s just a great guy. I’m happy for him and excited to work together.”

Needless to say, he sounds like a great fit and another great addition to the defending champs.

Patriots Add 17 Undrafted Free Agents – One part of the offseason that has become more of a focus in recent years has been keeping an eye on undrafted free agents, which has been fun to watch thanks to the players who have emerged from those ranks over the years for the Patriots.

New England loaded up with 17 undrafted players, although there may be changes still yet to come prior to when camp opens in a couple of months due to the roster shuffling that will likely take place between now and then.

One interesting story is the fact New England added a pair of twin brothers to the mix in Cody Hollister (WR, Arkansas) and Jacob Hollister (TE, Wyoming), which will likely be a fun story to follow later this summer as the two were recently profiled by FoxSports.com.

I was such a cute baby (on the right haha)

A post shared by Cody Hollister (@codyhollister) on

According to published reports, here is a list of the other additions from this weekend:

  1. LeShun Daniels Jr. (RB, Iowa)
  2. Jason King (OL, Perdue)
  3. Harvey Langi (LB, Brigham Young)
  4. Josh Augusta (OT, Missouri)
  5. Corey Vereen (DE, Tennessee)
  6. Austin Carr (WR, Northwestern)
  7. Dwayne Thomas (CB, LSU)
  8. Kenny Moore (CB, Valdosta State)
  9. Max Rich (OT, Harvard)
  10. David Jones (S, Richmond)
  11. Damarius Travis (S, Minnesota)
  12. Adam Butler (DL, Vanderbilt)
  13. D.J. Killings (CB, Central Florida)
  14. Cole Croston (OT, Iowa)
  15. Jason Thompson (S, Utah)

As for who will be the next Malcolm Butler (2014), David Andrews (2015) or Ryan Allen (2013), among plenty of other past standouts, that remains to be seen.  But if history is any indication, it will certainly be an area to keep an eye on during training camp to see if any one of these players ends up being this year’s surprise heading into this season.


Kirk Minihane of WEEI called Edelman “Essentially Brain Dead” Friday.

WEEI’s Minihane: Edelman a “Dummy” and “Essentially Brain Dead”, Brady’s Charity “Shady” – If you listened to WEEI on Friday, Kirk Minihane of “Kirk and Callahan” dropped some disturbing comments about Julian Edelman along with questionable remarks toward quarterback Tom Brady.

The topic of discussion came about surrounding the fact Brady and Edelman are taking part in an upcoming “Wealth and Success Summit” on June 8th in Boston with motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

While Minihane and Callahan disagreed with the two players being part of the event, Minihane went over the top with his criticism and had choice words in particular for Edelman.

“What I would say is, again, it gives you an insight into how empty Brady is,” said Minihane of the fact the quarterback is appearing at the event.

“He’s not empty, just because he has different priorities than you…” responded Callahan.

“If you think Tony Robbins, that crap he’s peddling is real, you are as dumb as the day is long,” said Minihane to Callahan.  “That’s what I would say.”

From there they played a clip from one of Robbins’ appearances, and that only infuriated Minhane further, which sparked one of his usual rants.

“I mean, really, and Brady will be sitting there with his notebook taking notes while this idiot [referring to Robbins] talks and slings his crap,” said Minihane.

“Julian Edelman, who is essentially brain-dead,” Minihane continued, “really is going to sit there and … ”

“Julian Edelman?” responded Callahan.  “You’re going to pay $6000 to hear Julian Edelman? …”

“Talk?” barked Minihane.  “I don’t want to listen to him talk here at the station for free every week.”

If you listen to Minihane with any regularity, you’ll notice a pattern of ripping someone, and then coming back with “I like that person … “.  He took same approach with Brady as the segment continued.

“So Brady has only so much time, according to Gerry [Callahan], for Best Buddies but he can take a day with Anthony Robbins, a full day, right?  O.K., just want to get that straight,” said Minihane.

“This is frightening, this seriously creeps me out.  I like Brady, he’s a nice guy, our interactions with him, he’s always been a good guy with us.  I know he does a lot of charity work.  I like the guy.  I’m actually worried about him.  I want to go there, I’ll pay the $6000, I’m going to throw a net over Brady and bring him somewhere and try and bring him back to reality because his mind has snapped.  It’s snapped, he’s snapped.”

“This is so below Brady.  This is so minor league.  This is Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback ever, the greatest football player who ever lived, a king in this town, he’s married to Gisele [Bundchen], the two of them are worth about $600 million and he’s going to schlepp to some hotel with Anthony Robbins and that dummy, Edelman?  For this talk?  Am I the only one who thinks this is utter madness?  Evidently.”

Speaking about Minihane’s praise for Brady’s charity work, he was singing a different tune earlier in the week.  Minihane went after the quarterback following the Globe (a newspaper he’s openly admitted he can’t stand and has a strong dislike for editor Joe Sullivan) releasing the piece about Brady’s charity, Best Buddies, last weekend, questioning where the money was being allocated.  Minihane surprisingly took the newspaper’s side and claimed Brady and the charity weren’t being transparent.


Minihane accused Brady of not being transparent with his charity last week using the word “shady.”

“So a charity that never disclosed it, gives $500,000 a year for his charity and what Brady does with it is things like, $250,000, if you donate to Best Buddies, there’s a chance that money is going to his high school in San Mateo, they get $250,000,” said Minihane.  “If you give Best Buddies $100, if you’re a guy making $35,000 a year, you give Best Buddies $100 because you love Brady, just know, there’s a chance it’s going to Santa Monica Catholic Community, or the TB12 Foundation, a charity formed by Brady in 2015 to support clients of his Foxboro-based TB12 Fitness and Nutrition company.  That’s in the world of shady to me right there.  I’ll say it.”

“Ohio State University, $50,000, in honor of Ed Razek, that’s where your money may be going, a former Victoria Secret executive who is said to have helped launch Brady’s romance with Gisele, in 2006.  $50,000 Michigan, obviously Dana Farber, Mission of Hope Haiti, Navy Seal Foundation, a charity for Tom Martinez, Brady’s coach who died five years ago. $30,000 went to a nursing facility in Minnesota that cared for Brady’s grandfather before he died in 2016.”

He then argued with Mut Mutnanski about if giving to the nursing facility was a good cause (again, Brady’s grandfather was cared for there which obviously holds a special place in the heart of the quarterback) and proceeded to argue with Mutnanski about whether or not Brady’s own foundation was also good cause.

“You think the TB12 Foundation is a good cause?” barked Minihane.  “Based on what?”

From there, Minihane claimed Brady and Best Buddies weren’t being transparent about where the money was going, which Mutnanski tried in vain to explain to him that the information is there if Minihane just “does the work” and looks for it, which it is.  Co-host Gerry Callahan also tried to reason with him, but failed as well.

Minihane, who joined the show a few years ago and has injected some life back into WEEI’s morning show, has played an important part in the station taking back the lead in the ratings over 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich.  But some of his bizarre rants seemingly are said (one can only hope) without him really thinking them through and certainly must test the incredible patience shown by his co-host, along with the two terrific producers WEEI has for that show in Chris Curtis and Ken Laird.

Brady and Edelman both appear weekly on the radio station during the regular season, with Brady being the only one of the two who conducts a weekly interview with Kirk & Callahan’s show every Monday during the season.  Edelman usually appears in the afternoon with Ordway, Merloni and Fauria and since WEEI owns the rights to Patriots Monday, that’s the primary reason why those two players appear on there each week.

Needless to say it would be great if Minihane could tone it down and stick to the things he does really well, like interviews like these, instead of these rants that likely wouldn’t be received positively with either player if they were made aware of them.

It’s been a rough road for Minihane, who has faced multiple suspensions over the years and last season cost the station weekly interviews with Mike Lombardi and has alienated others.  One would believe that costing the station a weekly interview with a player like Brady – or Edelman for that matter – likely wouldn’t be something that would go over too well with the station.

Brady’s said in the past he’s a very positive person and tries to avoid negative situations.  Despite that, it’s safe to say the veteran quarterback wouldn’t be feeling overly positive about Minihane’s comments.  Knowing Minihane, who already predicted Brady’s impending demise two seasons ago, there will most likely be more to come.