Bodden, Butler embrace challenge

WESTWOOD – In a stretch of four days, the challenge facing New England Patriots cornerbacks this season became significantly tougher with the addition of receivers Santonio Holmes and Brandon Marshall in the AFC East division.

But Leigh Bodden and Darius Butler don’t necessarily see it that way.

“A big name is a big name, they’re players just like us,” Bodden said Wednesday night at a charity basketball game. “We’re not really focused on that. We have to play our ‘D’ and work on what we need to work on, and everything will be fine.”

“Every player wants to go against the best, and those are some good players,” added Butler. “But you go against good players every week.”

Bodden projects to start at right cornerback after a solid 2009 season in which coaches credited him with a team-high 17 passes defended, and he also tied for the team-high with five interceptions.

Butler, the 2009 second-round pick who started five games in his rookie season, will vie for the starting role on the left side with veteran Shawn Springs and others. He’s focusing on adding strength this offseason and feels that being in his first NFL offseason program should help, almost as if he’s received a head start from last year.

Butler said he wasn’t surprised that Marshall was traded, and he thinks it’s a good move for the Dolphins. But more than anything, he turned the focus to himself.

“Some teams in our division got some good players, but I’m just doing everything I can do to get Darius Butler to be the best cornerback he can be and help the Patriots be the best team and defense they can be,” he said. “That’s all I’m worried about. It’s the NFL.”

Bodden, who hadn’t heard about the Marshall trade until later on Wednesday, echoed those thoughts.

“It’s not about any other team,” he said. “It’s about us right now. All we can do is prepare and take care of the little things at this time.”