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Patriots notebook: Malcolm Butler finds motivation in Pats Hall of Famers

August 2, 2016 GMT

FOXBORO — Malcolm Butler’s eyes didn’t need to wander too far last night to uncover all the motivation he’ll ever need.

The Patriots held their annual practice inside Gillette Stadium following the Hall of Fame induction ceremony of running back Kevin Faulk. And it’s become the norm for a flurry of former Patriots to swarm the sidelines to watch practice.

So as Butler worked alongside his teammates, Pats Hall of Fame cornerback Ty Law watched closely from the sideline, standing out in a white shirt and flashy sunglasses. He wasn’t hard to miss for the 24,546 in attendance or someone like Butler.

“Most definitely, Ty is no longer playing, all these other players are no longer playing, and they come back to this stadium and they get mad recognition, a lot of applause,” Butler said. “That’s a great feeling to still have fans like that when you’re no longer playing. It for sure makes you want to work harder, be the best you can be and get to that level.”

Mike Haynes, another legendary corner, was also on the field with Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest, among others. Tom Brady hung out with Bruschi as Jimmy Garoppolo led the starting offense during an 11-on-11 period, but the four-time Super Bowl champion doesn’t need to look to them for motivation.

That’s easier for a younger player like Butler. Entering his third season, Butler still has a long way to go before entering their territory.

The Super Bowl XLIX hero is off to a heck of a start, backing up his legendary interception with a Pro Bowl season in 2015 in his debut as a starter.

“Just staying grounded, working hard, trying to get better each and every year,” he said.

As for Butler’s highly anticipated contract situation, the 26-year-old hasn’t broken stride with his responses. Really, after getting asked about it nearly every day of camp, the impending restricted free agent seems to be getting tired of the topic.

“It is what it is,” Butler said. “I’m just going to come out here and work. Contract or not, I’m here for the team.”

Someone, and perhaps the Patriots, will pay Butler eventually. Until that happens, there’s only one thing he can control if he wants to draw the type of praise Law receives.

“We’re most definitely out there trying to get after each other, trying to get better,” Butler said. “It’s all competition. We’re out there getting after it trying to get better.”

Center of attention

Center Bryan Stork missed both practices after getting injured Saturday, so David Andrews has taken control. Stork and Andrews appear to be in a dead heat for the job since the start of organized team activities in May, but Andrews now has an opportunity to create separation.

“David played a lot of football for us last year, smart kid, very football savvy,” coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s got good instincts for the position. I think he built on last year’s experience. He saw that in the spring. He’s always got good command, but I’d say he’s got more command, more confidence, maybe sees things just a little fraction of a second quicker because he anticipates it more and has seen it more.”

Crowded stadium

New members of the Patriots are typically in awe of the crowd that shows up for the annual practice for season ticketholders and Foxboro residents, though they did get a preview of the passion Saturday when more than 21,000 were on hand for their third workout of camp.

“There’s nothing else like it,” said defensive end Shea McClellin, who spent his previous four seasons with the Bears. “It’s crazy. The fans are awesome. They get into practice and it’s great to see everyone out there, as many people as are out there.” .?.?.

Almost every player signed autographs after the practice, and tight end Rob Gronkowski predictably drew the loudest ovation. He immediately signed a poster that read, “Gronk, make me scrambled eggs.”