I recently asked where Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard went. I proposed two options: 1) that Dennard has legitimately fallen in the depth chart due to Logan Ryan's and Malcolm Butler's special teams value overcoming a marginal difference in defensive ability; 2) the Patriots were saving Dennard for the game against the Colts, a team that the cornerback has had plenty of success.
The Boston Globe's Ben Volin dropped this tidbit in one of his game review columns.
I’m told Butler has surpassed on the depth chart Alfonzo Dennard, who has been a healthy scratch the last two weeks.
I guess that answers that.
If you read one background piece on Malcolm Butler, read this one by my friend Mark Daniels at the Providence Journal. It's a story of overcoming adversity and finding oneself in the world. NESN's Doug Kyed implied that he's a wonderful person to speak with. Boston.com's Erik Frenz told me that Butler is all about football.
Butler's the type of player that everyone can get behind and it's another example of the great work the Patriots scouting department does on a regular basis. The 5'11, 190-pound Butler played for Division II West Alabama; in his two seasons with the school, he helped them win two consecutive conference championships- the school's first since 1971.
Butler took the world by storm during the preseason where he played alongside the first unit- and played well. His first game against Washington (67 snaps, 7 targets, 2 receptions allowed for 24 yards, 2 passes defended) made him an instant favorite.
He came back down to earth against the Eagles (8 targets, 7 receptions, 79 yards), but the seeds were planted; the Patriots wanted him as a part of the team. He worked on special teams and was used sparingly during the first six weeks of the regular season.
The past two weeks? He's been earning more time on the field. In fact, he not only leapfrogged Dennard, but also 2013 3rd round pick Logan Ryan. Butler was in coverage for eight of Emmanuel Sanders' 16 targets on Sunday and essentially rotated with Kyle Arrington depending on whether or not Wes Welker was on the field.
Read that again: the undrafted free agent who went from community college to Division II was now the primary outside cornerback across from Darrelle Revis whenever the Patriots moved Brandon Browner against Julius Thomas.
That's ascension. And that answers the question as to where Dennard has gone.