Pats Notebook on the second to last practice of training camp

The front seven on defense is still wide open

Adam Butler only wants to talk about football

DL Adam Butler, 6-foot-4 304 pounds, continued the tradition last year of at least one undrafted rookie making the team since 2004. That tradition has included fan favorites such as BenJarvus Green-Ellis (nicknamed the Law Firm), Malcolm Butler and David Andrews (currently on the roster). Butler, who is in his second year out of Vanderbilt, is focused on football and does not like questions about anything else. When asked what he did last Friday and Saturday when the Pats had no practice - Butler had a simple response

“What does that have to do with football? - why does it matter,” Butler said.

Butler was raised in Duncanville, Texas (near Dallas) - a city perhaps best known for being where current Texas Governor Greg Abbott went to high school. Butler played for Vanderbilt - the same school as undrafted free agent running back Ralph Webb who is hoping to make the team after an impressive performance in the Pats preseason win over the Washington Redskins.

"We had a healthy competition at Vanderbilt at all positions. It really motivated guys to be better at their position,” Butler said.

Butler played in all 16 regular season games (starting six) and the Pats three playoff games including the Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He had 19 combined tackles and two sacks. Butler knows that on a defensive line that is in flux, particularly with the return of Derek Rivers who missed of all last season with a knee injury and the addition of Danny Shelton and Adrian Clayborn, he cannot take anything for granted.

“My goal right now is just to make the team. I am not worried about anything else,” Butler said.

Eric Decker still adjusting to new offense

Eric Decker, who enters his ninth season, said his longevity in the league is as a result of his ability to run routes effectively. When a receiver gets older - his speed wanes. Thus, a receiver must master route running and understand how to get off physical coverage at the line of scrimmage. Decker, who had three drops early in practice but made several impressive catches towards the end of practice, is still trying to understand the Pats offense. His particular focus is on the connection between what formations to use given the coverage of an opponent. Pats Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted Decker when he was the head coach of the Denver Broncos in 2010 and while the offense under McDaniels has some similarities to the Pats offense in 2018 - a lot has changed.

"There is little carryover, but not much," Decker said.

A rookie linebacker impresses Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower has been impressed with the performance of rookie linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley (fifth round pick out of Purdue) who could contribute on a team that lacks depth at linebacker. He understands the defense well for a rookie and has shown an ability to make the defensive calls. Not comparing the two, but the last rookie linebacker to do that with ease was Jerod Mayo.

“The way he plays is the way he practices so he’s definitely one of the guys who literally takes the practice execution becomes game reality to that extent. Like I said, he’s a young guy, he’s eager to learn, very smart in the classroom, always asking questions. I mean he can cover, he can do a little bit of everything. He’s still obviously got a ways to go being a rookie or whatever, but I mean every day he’s wanting to get better and that’s a great way to start,” Hightower said.

The Twitter Culture

One important note with practice observations is they can be extremely fickle. There has been talk that CB Jason McCourty will be cut. Today, he played more regularly in practice on snaps with the first team. Coaches will often use a particular practice to see a specific look on defense/offense or sometimes Belichick will experiment with players in different positions to see how they can adjust to a new position.

"I see a clean slate every year," Belichick said.

In a couple weeks, everyone will know who made the roster. It is important to take a holistic picture of the roster situation with 90 players competing for 53 spots. Starters who will contribute during the season will have bad practices and players who will be looking for work in several weeks will have good practices.

In other words, if Decker and Julian Edelman drop passes in practice - they will not be playing less than WR Devin Lucien who has played well in training camp.

Pats Give Beds to Young Children

The Pats in partnership with Bob Discount’s Furniture gave away 200 beds to underprivileged youth in the Boston area. The beds had Pats sheets and pillow cases. The children watched a movie on their new beds and had refreshments readily available. Owner Bob Kraft, former Pats linebacker and Hall of Famer Andre Tippett who now works for the team, and Bob’s CEO Michael Skirvin were in attendance.

Tippett, 58, jokingly reminded the youngsters that he played before they were born.

“You need to go to ESPN classic to watch film of me playing,” Tippett said.

Note: RB Sony Michel, OL Marcus Cannon, special teamer Matthew Slater, RB Rex Burkhead and LB Harvey Langi were not spotted at practice. The players sang Happy Birthday to identical twins Devin and Jason McCourty. They turned 31 Monday.

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