FOXBORO — Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has a base salary of $600,000 this season and will be a restricted free agent after the year is over.

Malcolm Butler

Malcolm Butler

FOXBORO — Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has a base salary of $600,000 this season and will be a restricted free agent after the year is over.

This makes his contract a story as the Patriots could have looked to sign him to an extension this past offseason, along with other young defensive stars Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents after the season.

As has been the case in the past whenever it’s come up, Butler hasn’t wanted to get into it.

“It is what it is, man,” Butler said after Thursday’s session. “Just playing ball, doing what I have to do. Doing my thing. Doing my job. Control only what I can control so it is what it is.”

Butler will be in his second season as the Patriots’ No. 1 cornerback and in his third year as a pro, he’s still looking to get better.

“I just want to stay at the top, man,” Butler said. “Aim towards the top. Do better than what I did last year. Each and every year I sure that is what everyone’s goal is. I set my standards high. This team sets their standards high so can’t do nothing but go up.”

In just his first season as a starter, Butler got matched up against the opponents’ top receiver each week, which is a challenge he relishes and likely will be asked to do again this season.

“I love going against the best,” Butler said. “Everyone does.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — For the first time since Dec. 13 of last year, LeGarrette Blount was back on the field with his Patriots teammates.

LeGarrette Blount was back on the field on Thursday. (WEEI.com)

LeGarrette Blount was back on the field on Thursday. (WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — For the first time since Dec. 13 of last year, LeGarrette Blount was back on the field with his Patriots teammates.

After the Patriots’ win over the Texans, Blount was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a hip injury. He missed all of the spring practices, but was back participating on Thursday, the first day of training camp.

“It’s great,” Blount said of getting back on the field. “It’s a wonderful feeling to just be out here and blessed to be out here with these guys — sweating, hot and just being able to be able to come out here and work with them.”

While he’s back on the field, it doesn’t appear the 29-year-old will be going full-tilt, at least for the time being.

“We’re taking it day-by-day,” he said. “Good enough to go out there and participate in practice and all activities.”

Blount participated in all the drills on Thursday, but it’s worth noting it was the first day of camp and the team will not be in full pads until Saturday. It won’t be until then where there will be a true sense of exactly where he’s at in regards to being full strength.

As it relates to the running back group, they may be asked to do a bit more than in the past, especially in the first four games to take some weight off of Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulders. Blount isn’t thinking about that as he’s just worried about himself.

“Me personally, that’s the only thing I am worried about is me,” he said. “What I can do to contribute and what I can do to help the team do whatever we need to do to win games.”

Last year Blount had 20 or more carries in just one game and that could potentially change over Weeks 1-4 if the team goes to more of a ground-based attack.

“I’m going to do whatever Bill [Belichick] needs me to do to make sure we’re successful,” he said.

Blount leads a running back group that includes Dion Lewis, James White, Donald Brown and Tyler Gaffney.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

While the Patriots will practice Friday despite heavy rain in the forecast, the team is warning fans the session could be moved inside to the Enpower Field House, which would mean it would be closed to the public.

Here is the complete announcement:

The forecast for Friday, July 29 is calling for rain, heavy at times, with a chance of thunderstorms. While the team plans on practicing as scheduled from 9:15-11:30 a.m. on the training camp practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, we would like to warn any fans planning to attend that thunderstorms could force the team to practice inside their Empower Field House at a moment’s notice. Due to space limitations, indoor practices will be closed to the public. Any updates or changes to the practice schedule will be posted on patriots.com/training camp and on the training camp information line at 508-549-0001.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Jimmy Garoppolo was the center of attention at camp Thursday.</p>
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Duron Harmon

Duron Harmon

FOXBORO — Nothing appeared to be wrong with Patriots safety Duron Harmon at the end of last season, but the Rutgers product missed all of the spring practices open to the media and then wore a red, non-contact jersey for the first training camp session on Thursday.

After the session, Harmon was asked what kept him away from the field in the spring and why he’s in the red, non-contact jersey now.

“It was something just cleaning it up and taking care of some things — minor problems, but I’m all set now,” he said.

Harmon appeared fine on the field, moving around well and not showing any signs of an injury. He hopes to get rid of the non-contact jersey soon.

“I’m not sure. I’m just do what I am told,” Harmon said. “It was in my locker, so I put it on. Hopefully soon, or whenever they take it off so I can just be out here ready to go.”

Another member of the secondary — cornerback Logan Ryan — like Harmon missed all of the spring practices and had a red, non-contact jersey on Thursday as well. It’s unclear why he was kept out during the spring.

Harmon and Ryan are part of an experienced secondary, who have played together for several years now. Harmon was excited to get back on the field with them and start working towards getting ready for the season.

In his three years in the league, Harmon has a total of six interceptions.

“It’s good. It’s good to come out here and build on the comradery,” Harmon said. “Just being together and trying to build each day to a common goal. It feels good just to be out here with them. The ceiling, we don’t really know what the ceiling is. All we can do is just come out here, get better and see how good we can be throughout the season.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — When taking attendance at the first Patriots training camp practice, it was strange seeing a No. 43 jersey on the field considering Nate Ebner is off preparing with the U.S. Rugby team for the upcoming Summer Olympics.

Ebner wasn’t back with the Patriots, instead it was special teams captain Matthew Slater showing his support for his fellow core special-teamer.

“I have a lot of respect for that guy,” Slater said. “I wanted to show him a little love today. This is supporting him as he chases his dream.”

Added Slater: “He might be a little bit surprised. I didn’t give him the heads-up. Hopefully he doesn’t get mad I had his jersey on.”

Even though Ebner hasn’t been able to be at Gillette Stadium with the rest of his team, Slater has made sure to keep him up to speed with what he’s missed.

“He’s living his dream, and not a lot of people get that opportunity to be an Olympian,” Slater said. “I gave him the install from (Wednesday). He knows what we did (Thursday morning). I’m sure I’ll give him the install (Thursday night). We know when he comes back here, he’ll be all-in here, but he needs to focus on what he’s doing now, and we understand that.”

It’s likely Ebner returns in the middle of August and he’s expected to be ready for the 2016 season. The entire team is pulling for him to bring back a gold medal.

“It’s unbelievable,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “He’s a great worker, hard worker, Nate Ebner. Always on top of his game out here. I know he played rugby before he came to the NFL, so huge props to him. Amazing accomplishment, and best of luck to him. Hopefully he brings home that gold and then (rejoins) our team. That would be awesome.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable discuss the significance of Jimmy Garoppolo opening camp as the starting quarterback and how he looked on Day 1. Jamie Collins was the other big newsmaker Thursday, as he was a no-show as camp opened outside Gillette Stadium.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FOXBORO — If you were looking for something other than his trademark charismatic smile on Thursday, you were disappointed in Jimmy Garoppolo’s smooth handling of all questions surrounding the Patriots quarterback position.