WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. - No sugarcoating the kind of day Malcolm Butler had Wednesday in joint practice with the Saints. He stunk. And not just in one period, but from the first time he tried to cover Josh Morgan in 1-on-1’s right on down to 11-on-11 when Brandon Coleman and both Josh and Joe Morgan took turns working Butler over like he was a guy on the roster bubble, not a starting left cornerback for the defending Super Bowl champs. It was the first real misstep of Butler’s otherwise strong training camp.
“No excuses. You win some, you lose some,” said Butler. “I’ve just gotta keep moving forward, come out here - came out here today - try to redeem myself. Even the great ones have bad days. it’s all about learning, moving forward, getting better and competing.”
Butler did that, not to perfection, but he looked more like a starter in this league Thursday than a guy on the bubble. In 11-on-11’s, he locked down Marques Colston and that helped created a coverage sack of Drew Brees. He also had a nice recovery after getting beaten off the line of scrimmage by Colston in red zone work. rising up to disrupt a sure touchdown pass in the back right corner of the end zone. That prompted a brief flurry of enthusiasm from Butler and some strong, encouraging words from linebacker Jamie Collins.
“Guys are going to try me just like any other cornerback,” said Butler. “Just gotta try and be ready."
Butler didn’t get enough snaps last season to be as mentally tested as it appears he will be this season, as the clear cut choice at left corner. That means the 2nd year pro will need to learn how to forgive and forget, if you will.
“It’s just like life,” said Butler. “You have mistakes. You got to keep moving forward.”
Tarell Brown has spent eight years in this league. That’s an eternity, especially at a taxing position like corner. He believes short-term memory - or lack thereof - can make or break a player.
“You can’t let one play determine the whole outcome of your game because you’re going to have another opportunity to make a play on the ball,” said Brown. “For us, we always say forget about it, learn from your mistakes and get back to work. It’s staying fundamentally sound on and off the field, making the corrections in the film room and just going out there every day just to compete. These guys get paid as well. They get paid to make good catches. They’re in the NFL for a reason.”
So is Butler and it’s for more than just a moment in the Super Bowl. He’d be wise to heed the words of a sage veteran like Brown and maybe he’ll stick around just as long and reach the potential that the Pats clearly see in him.