FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Each week during the season, a Patriots assistant coach is made available to media members. This week, it was Josh Boyer.
Now in his fifth season with the Patriots, Boyer works most closely with the team's cornerbacks, and with him stopping by the locker room today, it was a chance to ask him about two of the Patriots top draft choices the last two years -- Devin McCourty (1st round, 2010) and Darius Butler (2nd round, 2009).
Butler started the first two weeks of the season, but after struggling in those games he has been deep on the depth chart since, replaced by Kyle Arrington.
Asked to assess Butler at this point, Boyer said: "Darius is working hard, like the other guys, every day. I would say the things with Darius, the guys you see on the field we have confidence in, and he was out on the field last week, and the week before. We feel pretty good about Darius and where he's at. He's working hard to get better each and every day. He's another guy who puts in his time, comes in to practice, works hard. When we put him out there, we have the confidence he'll make plays for us."
While Butler was on the field the last two games, it was only for a series or two. Have his problems been more mental or physical?
"I don't think it was a mental thing for anybody. I don't think it was a physical thing," Boyer responded. "The guys that we put out there are the guys we think are going to best help us."
While Butler's slide down the depth chart has been a not-so positive storyline, McCourty's rookie campaign has been at the opposite end of the spectrum. McCourty is coming off a performance in which he recorded his first career interception.
"Technique-wise, it was about as good as you can get; it's what you ask for," Boyer said. "He pressed the guy outside pretty well, kept good leverage, and went up and made a play on the ball."
Boyer was asked what he's seen from McCourty that has contributed to his ability to be on the field for every snap.
"No. 1, intelligence," he said. "He's picked up our system very quickly and he works hard at it. He spends a lot of extra time at it. Second, I'd say his work ethic. Everybody in the NFL has athletic ability but I'd say his work ethic and his intelligence have put him in the position to be on the field."