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News Blitz 5/4: Butler, Garoppolo back in business

It seems Malcolm Butler and the Patriots are on the same page once again. According to an ESPN blog post, Butler is back in town for offseason workouts with the Patriots, after it seemed he might be shipped out of New England earlier this offseason.

"Disappointment over not receiving a lucrative long-term extension won't be a factor in his making a full-fledged investment to the club in 2017," the story goes on to assert.

Meanwhile, another Patriot thought to be a candidate to be dealt, backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo, is also back in Foxborough and saying all the right things.

"I had a great offseason. It's good to be back," Garoppolo said this week. The Providence Journal has more details.  

Those two veterans will soon be joined at Gillette Stadium by the 2017 class of rookies, including top pick Derek Rivers. The Boston Herald offers a lengthy feature on Rivers, the defensive end from Youngstown State.

"He lives, eats and breathes football. It's really important to him. His character is off the charts. He is going to do everything those coaches ask him to do, and he is going to be a tremendous asset for that organization," Rivers' college coach, Bo Pelini, declares in that story.

Another newcomer to watch might provide a challenge to kicker Stephen Gostkowski, according to an ESPN story today. Apparently, the Patriots are considering looking into a younger kicker who didn't play college football, but briefly played professional soccer in Europe.

Elsewhere, Patriots owner Robert Kraft made some interesting comments at a business event this week, suggesting that there's considerable jealousy of his team among other NFL clubs.

"I understand how they brought pressure on the league office to be very strong and not compromise on an issue that was nonsense and foolishness," Kraft said in veiled reference to the deflated football saga. The ProFootballTalk website has more from Kraft on this subject.

Finally, which of those other NFL clubs might challenge the Patriots for the AFC crown this season? The Boston Globe examines that question in depth today, focusing on a handful of teams with a legitimate change of dethroning the reigning champions.

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