Sometimes the only way to test yourself at a certain position is to go up against the best, and that’s exactly what’s happening with the New England Patriots.
The Patriots have question marks in their secondary — especially at cornerback — after the offseason departures of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Malcolm Butler has stepped up in training camp and has shown an ability to bounce back from rough practices, but there still are plenty of question marks.
However, the Patriots’ first two preseason opponents have presented an opportunity for the secondary to get meaningful snaps against Aaron Rodgers (last Thursday against the Green Bay Packers) and Drew Brees (this Saturday against the New Orleans Saints) — two of the best quarterbacks in the league. And don’t forget the reps those players got during training camp against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, too.
“Anytime you get an opportunity to go against those three guys, period, it’s a challenge,” cornerback Tarell Brown said to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe. “It’s something we relish and something we look forward to. I think if you can go out there and compete with those guys down in and down out, you can have some type of success in this league.”
Butler was one of those players who visibly made improvements over the past week. Brees had his way with the Super Bowl XLIX hero in the teams’ first joint practice Wednesday, but Butler returned with a solid effort Thursday.
“It makes me a better player, makes me smarter, makes me not make young-guy mistakes,” Butler said. “It grows you up as a defender because these guys know way more than me. It grows you up real fast.”
That’s what can happen when you go up against the best.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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