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The Malcolm Butler questions continue. And reporters at the NFL Combine took another shot at asking Matt Patricia about it.

Patricia, who departed the Patriots to become the Detroit Lions head coach, has a busy week in front of him in Indianapolis. For the Lions, that is. So as you might expect, he’s not willing to say much about Butler now that he’s not in New England.

“I would characterize my relationship with Malcolm as extremely strong,” Patricia said on Wednesday at the Combine, via Doug Kyed of NESN. “I love Malcolm a lot. He’s like – like all of my players – like one of my sons. I make sure that he does everything to the best, and I hope for the best for him. And that’s really all I’m going to say about Malcolm.”

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 04: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“I Have A New Team”

As for anything involving the Patriots, Patricia volleyed those inquiries back to the head coach.

“As far as the Patriots are concerned, and this is really how I feel about it, I’m going to be extremely respectful to Coach Belichick and his organization, and I’m going to let him answer any questions that have to do with the Patriots,” Patricia said. “I have obviously a lot of love for New England, but I have a new team.”

He’s obviously not going to say a ton about Butler, so as to avoid any kind of tampering. But you know what it means now that he deferred Patriots questions back to Bill Belichick. He just sent them down the questions black hole. They’ll get sucked into a vortex of non-answers. And that’s Belichick’s prerogative, if and when he gets asked about Butler again.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 04: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks of the field after losing 41-33 to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There will never be sufficient answers for why Belichick benched Butler in Super Bowl LII. It’s worth trying, but Patricia certainly didn’t make it any easier. He’s got a new team to worry about, and his plan may even include luring Butler to Detroit.

Just don’t expect him to say anything about that until something actually happens.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.