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Patriots notebook

Starting to move on

Reclaiming spot is Butler’s focus

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / September 30, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — Cornerback Darius Butler may only be three games into his second NFL season, but he knows how this game works.

“It’s a production business,’’ he said yesterday. “If you don’t produce on game day is when it counts. If it’s not getting done on game day, you’re not going to be out there.’’

That’s just what happened with Butler. After a poor performance against the Jets in Week 2, including two pass interference penalties in one possession, Butler did not start last Sunday’s game against the Bills, replaced by Kyle Arrington.

“I guess my play wasn’t up to par and I wasn’t on the field, and that’s obviously where I want to be so I need to do whatever it takes,’’ Butler said.

The benching was due in part to his play against the Jets, but two league sources indicated that Butler also was being sent a message because he was not playing the technique as instructed by Patriot coaches.

It didn’t help Butler’s cause that when he finally got on the field with the defense in the second quarter, he allowed a 9-yard completion on second and 5. He was pulled from the game a short time later.

Butler has turned the page, saying he is focused on facing the Dolphins Monday night.

“First and foremost, it was good because we got a win,’’ Butler said. “Obviously, every player wants to be on the field every snap, and that wasn’t the case on Sunday, but now I’m moving on to this week.’’

Small sample
In a way coach Bill Belichick surely would approve of, Tom Brady wouldn’t bite when asked about the Patriots’ road struggles dating to last season. According to Brady, there’s only one road loss to look at, and that was against the Jets.

“This is a totally different team than last year. We’ve played one game on the road this year — a meaningful game,’’ Brady said. “We played well in the first half. We didn’t play well in the second half and we lost. It sounds generic, but based on one game this year, it’s hard to say, ‘Well, we have to play well in the second half. That’s what we have to do.’ We have to play 60 minutes of football.’’

But it was Brady who indicated after last Sunday’s win that the game against the Dolphins was a big one, saying, “We’ve got to win a meaningful game on the road. If we’re going to be a good team, we’ve got to start winning on the road.’’

Itching to get back
Cornerback Terrence Wheatley has not practiced since suffering a foot injury, believed to be a broken bone, in the third preseason game, against St. Louis.

“It’s frustrating because you want to be part of the guys and I definitely miss being out there with them and playing and enjoying the camaraderie, but unfortunately this is the card that I’ve been dealt,’’ he said. “So you just deal with it. It allows me to watch film and get caught up on a few other things that a lot of the guys can’t do.’’

Wheatley was having a strong camp before the injury. According to a league source, he will return to practice before the Oct. 17 game against Baltimore.

Change for guard
Guard Rich Ohrnberger was promoted to the 53-man roster, taking the place of rookie Steve Maneri, who was released Monday.

A fourth-round draft pick last year out of Penn State, Ohrnberger was active for three games as a rookie, and was among the Patriots’ final cuts earlier this month. He was signed to the practice squad two days later.

Ohrnberger’s reaction? “Very happy,’’ he said with a big smile.

Maneri and Ohrnberger essentially swapped places, as the tackle was re-signed to the practice squad. New England also signed offensive lineman Thomas Austin, a rookie out of Clemson, to the practice squad.

Distant memory
The last time Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby faced the Patriots, he was a member of the Cardinals. The last time the Cardinals faced the Patriots, they just about forgot to get off the bus.

That was Dec. 21, 2008, when New England scored 44 points before Arizona scored 1, and posted a 47-7 win.

Dansby was asked on conference call if he’s thought about that game this week.

“Nah, I kind of left that where it was. That’s the year we went to the Super Bowl . . . we left that game there in New England. It was a bad outing by our team. We didn’t get an opportunity to finish the way we . . . well, it didn’t seem like we got a chance to start that game,’’ he said, chuckling. “They put a beating on us pretty bad. They taught us a lesson, though, and it carried over through the playoffs when we had that opportunity.’’

Matt Cassel started that game for the Patriots, so this will be Dansby’s first time facing Brady.

Three outs
The Patriots held a full-pads practice behind Gillette Stadium, with three players not spotted: Fred Taylor, Nick Kaczur, and Wheatley. Taylor has been dealing with a toe injury and left last Sunday’s game in the third quarter . . . Five players were in black jerseys as practice players of the week for the Bills game: Aaron Hernandez, Brian Hoyer, Dane Fletcher, Jarrad Page, and Sergio Brown . . . New England and Miami did not have to compile an injury/participation report yesterday because of the game being on Monday night . . . The Patriots are seventh in the NFL in total offense (10th passing, 10th rushing) and 27th in total defense (20th rushing, 25th passing). But they are league leaders in third-down efficiency (21 for 36, 58.3 percent), and scoring, averaging 30 points.

Monique Walker of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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