BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots defense has high-end talent at all levels, but on paper, the secondary appears to be its biggest strength.

Despite losing cornerback Logan Ryan to free agency in the offseason, they replaced him with Stephon Gilmore, who has impressed so far in training camp (and also scrapped with Julian Edelman). He was added to a secondary that also boasts a deep safety group led by Devin McCourty.

Gilmore joins a cornerback group that already includes Malcolm Butler, who spoke to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand after the Patriots practiced on Thursday.

When asked if this secondary is the best he’s been a part of in his young career, Butler agreed.

“I’ll say yes,” said Butler. “When [Brandon] Browner and [Darrelle] Revis were here [in 2014], that was the best I’d seen so far. … We’ve got the confidence we can be one of the top secondaries in the NFL. We’ve just got to keep putting work in and grinding.

“The potential is there. Just got to keep working.”

Considering how quickly Butler emerged as a Super Bowl hero for the Patriots, it’s hard to believe that 2017 will only be his fourth season in the NFL. But to admit that he likes this year’s secondary more than the strong 2014 unit is certainly high praise.

butler gilmore Malcolm Butler: 2017 Patriots Secondary Is The Best Ive Played In

Patriots cornerbacks Malcolm Butler (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) and Stephon Gilmore (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Zolak & Bertrand noticed that Butler has been moving all over the field in coverage during drills. He explained that he’s trying to develop into a more versatile corner and be prepared for any kind of formation Matt Patricia calls for in games.

“There’s not just one type of corner on this team,” said Butler. “You could play in various spots, so you’ve got to be well-rounded. You could be at any spot, any position on the field, so you’ve got to know all your roles.

“I’m just learning more positions as I go. Not just learning one thing, trying to learn multiple things and be more valuable to the team.”

Listen to the full interview above, as well as comments from Devin McCourty and rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise.


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