Chung acknowledges he has work to do
FOXBOROUGH — Safety Patrick Chung was the Patriots’ highest draft pick in 2009, chosen 34th overall, one of the team’s four second-round selections.
But Chung, a four-year starter and respected captain at Oregon, saw his number of defensive snaps decline in the final weeks of his rookie season. Chung played in every game, and started against the Colts in Week 10; four games later, however, he played just 12 snaps on defense against the Panthers, and in Buffalo the next week, he didn’t play on defense at all (Chung was not listed on New England’s injury report during the stretch).
Ask if he was disappointed by the amount of time he saw on the field, and Chung makes no excuses.
“Honestly, I wasn’t disappointed,’’ he said. “I have to know what I’m doing. Everyone has to know what they’re doing to be able to go on the field. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not going to be on the field. So that was all my fault. Wasn’t disappointed, wasn’t mad. It’s my fault. I have to take responsibility for that. It’s just knowing your stuff. If you know your stuff, you’re going to play.’’
Chung spent some time this offseason at home in California, but mostly was at Gillette Stadium, diligently working on all facets of his game, on the field and off.
“You can’t work on just one — if you’re smart you have to get there fast, and if you’re fast you have to be smart,’’ Chung said, adding that if he spent all his time in the film room, opponents would be getting stronger and quicker; if he was only working on getting stronger and quicker, others would be in the film room.
Wearing a red noncontact jersey — even though organized team activities, by rule, are noncontact — Chung was sporting a wrist brace last week, though he didn’t wear it yesterday. The defensive back’s main focus this year is learning to relax, something that should be easy for someone who was born in tropical Jamaica.
“You’ve got to learn to relax, learn to slow down, and it all comes from knowing your playbook,’’ he said. “If you don’t know your playbook, then you’re going to be tense. If you know your playbook, it’s just like you’re playing football.’’
The former UConn standout is the clubhouse leader to start opposite Leigh Bodden, and downplayed the significance of his pick as it pertains to his development.
“I’m just out here working; it was a play in practice,’’ he said. “I’m getting better. Obviously, I have a lot more time to prepare than I did last year [when much of the spring was dedicated to predraft workouts], and things are coming together better, so that’s a good sign.’’
Like most rookies, Butler’s performance last season was up and down; he showed flashes, playing in 15 of 17 games with five starts and three interceptions.
He has spent his first NFL offseason working on “technique, getting more disciplined with my technique, and using my athleticism to the best of my ability,’’ Butler said. “And that comes with coaching, that comes with time preparing and making that transition to the league.’’
Some observations from yesterday’s practice:
Absent were Ty Warren, Logan Mankins, Bodden, Brandon McGowan, Aaron Hernandez, Taylor Price, and Kade Weston. Warren and Price are tending to academics; no word on why the others weren’t present.
Torry Holt is always moving. While waiting his turn with the offense, he was doing toe-taps and quick hops over one of the yardage lines, and later he showed his headstand skills to David Patten. Not to be outdone, Edelman tried his hand at handstand push-ups.
It can’t be a good early sign for Shawn Crable that he was with the scout defense against the first-string offense during run-game work — particularly given that rookie Jermaine Cunningham, making the switch to outside linebacker, was with the top defensive players against the scout offense on the other field.
Stephen Gostkowski, with rookie punter Zoltan Mesko consistently serving as holder, looks solid. Yesterday he hit several kicks from 48 yards, several with plenty of distance.
Albert R. Breer of the Globe staff contributed to this report.