Malcolm Butler's struggles reach peak just in time for Patriots' visit

AP Photo

Malcolm Butler's struggles reach peak just in time for Patriots' visit

Maybe Bill Belichick was on to something with Malcolm Butler.

Butler, the cornerback famously benched by Belichick in the Patriots' Super Bowl 52 loss to the Eagles, has had his problems after signing a five-year, $61 million contract with the Tennessee Titans, who get a visit from the Pats on Sunday.

According to Pro Football Focus, Butler has allowed 39 catches for 618 yards and seven touchdowns this season. All are highs among NFL cornerbacks.  Butler has dropped to third on the cornerback depth chart, behind ex-Patriot Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson.

Butler's struggles were on display for a national audience in Tennessee's Monday night victory over the Cowboys. He was burned for both Dallas TDs, by Amari Cooper and Allen Hurns. 

Another ex-Patriot, Titans coach Mike Vrabel, talked about Butler on Tuesday.

"When you play man coverage, you have to look at your man. Malcolm knows that and we talk about that, continue to practice it, continue to coach it and try to show it to him," Vrabel told reporters. "When he does that, it's pretty good. It's competitive, he challenges the receivers. When you look back at the quarterback, your man has a tendency to move in another direction."

Butler told the Tennessean last month that he needs "to get back to basics." 

"I think sometimes my problem is trying to get the ball, you gamble and do things you shouldn't, just need to get back to the basics. I need to get back to my doggish ways.

"I'm going to get back to being real nasty, man," he said. "I'm going to play my game and do more to help my team out. I am just going to be me."

Patriots linebackers coach, and defacto defensive coordinator, Brian Flores, was asked about Butler on a conference call Tuesday.

It was Flores, on the sideline in Super Bowl 49, who famously yelled "Malcolm, go!" to insert Butler into the game before the then-rookie undrafted free-agent corner's championship-saving interception against the Seahawks.

"It takes me back to a great memory," Flores said when he thinks of those words. "Obviously, I have a good history with Malcolm [Butler]. I think he’s a great player, incredible player. He was a joy to coach, a joy to be around, really looking forward to seeing him this weekend and I wish him all the best always."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.



NFL players rip league's postgame jersey swap policy for next season

NFL players rip league's postgame jersey swap policy for next season

A tradition that became popular in international soccer has become a staple of NFL postgames in recent years, but it might not be allowed during the 2020 season.

Swapping jerseys with an opponent is now commonplace in North American professional sports leagues. We often see younger players swap jerseys with veterans who they grew up watching. Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a sought-after player for the postgame jersey swap. Multiple players from the Washington Redskins asked for his No. 12 jersey after a Week 5 game last season.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Well, unfortunately for NFL players, swapping jerseys could be banned in the upcoming season as the league tries to implement social distancing measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the NFL and NFLPA have not yet agreed on all of the medical protocols for gamedays. NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported the latest information Thursday:

Players were not pleased with this development, to say the least.

One of the most outspoken players was San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who tweeted the following message. It earned a retweet from Patriots running back James White, among other players.

Many other players were not afraid to share their displeasure with the jersey swap potentially being banned. Here are some of those reactions:

With opposition so strong and coming from several of the league's stars, it'll be interesting to see if the league eventually eases up and allows jersey swaps to happen as normal next season.

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

Cam Newton is wasting no time getting to know his New England Patriots wide receivers.

The new Patriots quarterback, who officially signed a one-year contract with the team Wednesday, linked up with wideout Mohamed Sanu last week for a few throwing sessions in Los Angeles.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

This Wednesday, it was N'Keal Harry's turn to catch passes from Newton, according to, which obtained video of the duo's L.A. workout from EBA Sports.

The video shows Newton meeting Harry for the first time as a member of the Patriots before throwing the second-year receiver a handful of passes.

Newton and Harry worked out together for about two hours and were later joined by Cleveland Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., per

Next Pats Podcast: How can Pats maximize Harry's talent? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Harry has been working hard this offseason to improve his game after a disappointing rookie campaign. The Patriots' 2019 first-round pick appeared in just seven games last season due to a nagging ankle injury, catching 12 passes on 24 targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

It's encouraging to see the 22-year-old on the practice field with Newton, who's aiming to bounce back from his own foot injury that limited him to two games in 2019.

Newton will have to beat out second-year QB Jarrett Stidham for the starting job, and it appears he's eager to get started while developing chemistry with his new pass-catchers.