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Second-year players in first-team roles

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Patrick Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler, and Sebastian Vollmerwere all selected by the Patriots in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Today, they're all contributing as starters on New England's defense.

For Butler, it's been a rough start to his second season, as the young cornerback has been on the receiving end of some big plays by opposing receivers. He insists, though, that he remains a confident player.

"I have to ... especially as a defensive back," he said Friday. "You have to be confident out there and have a short memory."

And how does one do that when times get tough?

"Making plays," he replied. "The more plays you make, the more confident you get. Just getting back to basics, the right techniques."

Vollmer, meanwhile, as the starting right tackle, maintains that he's been taking the same approach to his role this year as he did when he was a reserve player last season.

"I kind of approached the offseason the same, just trying to get better. You kind of do what you're told, and do it to the best of your ability. I just prepare the same, watch film.

"You always prepare yourself to play 60 minutes," Vollmer added, "and if you do, it's up to coach, but you always have to be ready. The preparation is the same."

Though this week's opponent, the Buffalo Bills, are winless after two games, they've made a change at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatricktakes over, and, as Butler remembers from last year, Fitzpatrick played the Pats tough in a 17-10 loss to New England in Buffalo, and the Bills nearly pulled off the upset in the '09 regular season opener.

"Obviously, we opened with them last year and they played us tough. It's a division game and you have to respect that.

"[Fitzpatrick] is a mobile guy, smart guy. He can put the ball up in the air let his receivers make some plays, especially Evans. We'll see what happens."

Fri 9/24 Practice Notebook

For news and notes from Friday's practice, please visit the PFW Blog.

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