FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from Monday’s New England Patriots media availability at Gillette Stadium:
— One of the few bright spots in last Thursday’s 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was the play of undrafted rookie defensive tackle Adam Butler, who finished with two quarterback hits and one hurry in his NFL debut.
Butler, Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise generated pressure on third down against Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, but the Patriots’ defense as a whole was dreadful, allowing the most points and yards by any New England team in the Bill Belichick era.
After the game, several Patriots leaders stressed the need for greater mental toughness, which Butler said has been a theme in the days since the season-opening defeat.
“My biggest takeaway was just don’t quit,” the Vanderbilt product said. “Just keep going. Don’t quit. I’ve heard some of the players say, ‘We should have kept fighting.’ And that’s true. That stuck with me.”
Though the 23-year-old Butler, who landed a spot on the 53-man roster after dominating in training camp and the preseason, is young, he hopes to set a positive example for his teammates as the Patriots prepare for this Sunday’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
“Be the example in practice this week and just keep doing what I do,” Butler said. “I fly to the ball every day, and as long as I do that, you infect other people around you. And then everybody starts to rally around that thing.”
— In addition to football talk, Butler also shared a few stories about his life away from the field, delighting reporters on an otherwise slow Monday in the Patriots’ locker room.
That Butler was more than willing to chat shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as he aspired to be a public speaker before landing a job in the NFL.
“Plan B for me, it actually changed the closer I got to being here,” Butler explained. “At first, I wanted to speak publicly in the community about the environment, which is why my degree is in environmental communication. At Vanderbilt, you can create your own major, and that’s basically what I did — I took the environmental science curriculum and combined it with the communication studies curriculum.
“That’s what I wanted to do at first. Now I want to be a public speaker, especially to the African-American youth, to let them know that their dreams can come true just like mine.”
— Safety Duron Harmon said he was “shocked” to learn his Patriots teammates had elected him as one of the seven team captains for this season.
Harmon said he’s been mainly an observer during captains meetings thus far, listening and picking the brains of longtime Patriots leaders like Tom Brady, Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty.
“(That approach) has just helped me throughout my whole life,” the 26-year-old said. “Before you can lead, you have to be able to follow. I really believe that. So I’m just trying to understand. I’m trying to learn. Because this is something new to me.
“I don’t have all the experience there, so it’s just a learning curve. It’s learning how to be a captain — learning how to be an effective captain and how to get your guys to always rally around you. So I’m learning.”
This is the first taste of captaincy for Harmon, who is in his fifth season with the Patriots. The same goes for center David Andrews, who is in his third. Speaking earlier Monday in a conference call, Belichick said he likes the “youthful layer of leadership” those two players add to the captain group.
— The Arizona Cardinals reportedly claimed running back D.J. Foster off the Patriots’ practice squad Monday, adding depth at the position in the wake of David Johnson’s potentially serious wrist injury.
“(I’m) definitely excited for him,” Patriots running back James White told reporters. “He’s a good football player, had a great preseason. (It’s) well deserved. I hope he goes out there and he balls out and gets a chance to play.”
Foster appeared in three games last season as a Patriots rookie, carrying the ball seven times for 24 yards.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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