FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots defensive tackle Adam Butler came into training camp noticeably larger than he looked in his rookie campaign. And that’s not a bad thing. This was all part of the plan.
Butler tipped the scales at 320 pounds in college and came to the Patriots at 305 pounds last spring for rookie minicamp. By last summer, he was down to 280 pounds after the Patriots set a plan in place for him to trim his body fat. He went from 26 percent body fat down to 19.6 percent.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick noted last year that Butler could add some “quality weight” during the season. Butler got up to 285 pounds, and now he’s tacked on more quality weight through hard work over the summer. He’s 292 pounds but still feels like he moves as well as he did last year.
“It’s something that I wanted to do,” Butler said. “I wanted to pick up weight as long as I could keep my speed and my quickness. So far, it looks like I’m able to keep it. I feel like I’m in good conditioning.”
So, how did he do it?
“I had to do a lot of squats, a lot of lifting and of course a lot of running to keep my conditioning up to where it needs to me,” Butler said.
Butler unexpectedly made the Patriots’ 53-man roster last summer as an undrafted free agent. He was active for all 16 regular season and three postseason games. He recorded two regular season sacks and had a sack in each of the Patriots’ divisional-round and AFC Championship games.
Still, he knows he’s always fighting for a roster spot.
“There’s no comfort level,” Butler said. “I could be out of here tomorrow. If that’s what they want. But I’m just going to keep my head down and keep working to get better, and I’m going to do what I do best and run to the football and rush the passer and do anything they tell me to do.”
Defensive tackles Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton, like Butler, are considered favorites to earn a spot. But they’re competing with Vincent Valentine, John Atkins and Frank Herron. Defensive end Keionta Harris also has been taking reps as an interior rusher — Butler’s main role — in the Patriots’ first-team defense.
Butler had a tackle in the Patriots’ first preseason game.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images