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Combine: Lions Patricia 'respectful' of Belichick, Butler situation

INDIANAPOLIS - Three-plus weeks removed from the Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles, the surprise benching of former Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler remains a hot topic in New England and across the NFL.

There have been few answers regarding the decision by Bill Belichick to keep one of his top corners all season long on the sideline as Philly drove the ball up and down the field with ease on the way to a Lombardi Trophy.

Wednesday morning at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, now the head coach of the Lions, was asked about Butler's benching.

His answer, or decision not to answer the question, did little to shed any new light on the situation.

"You know what. To be honest with you. As far as the Patriots are concerned, and this is really how I feel about it, I'm going to be extremely respectful of Coach Belichick and his organization and I'm going to let him answer any questions that have to do with the Patriots," Patricia said, his trademark pencil tucked into his right ear and under his all-black Lions cap. "I have obviously a lot of love for New England but I have a new team that I'm trying to get a handle on."

As he continued to walk down the hallway of the Indianapolis Convention Center with a hoard of media from both Detroit and New England surrounding him, Patricia did answer a bit more openly regarding his relationship with Butler, who's set to be a free agent when the new league year opens on March 14.

"I would characterize my relationship with Malcolm as extremely strong," Patricia said of the corner he coached for all four of the former rookie free agent's NFL seasons in Foxborough. "I love Malcolm a lot. He's like all my players, he's like one of my sons. I want to make sure he does everything to the best and I hope the best for him. That's really all I'm going to say about Malcolm."

Which was a lot more than what he had to say about the still-curious decision from Super Bowl Sunday that saw the Patriots sideline the former Super Bowl hero for what was likely his final game in New England.

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