Patriots

Butler never flips 'off' switch, even in locker-room games

patriots_malcolm_butler_101517.jpg

Butler never flips 'off' switch, even in locker-room games

FOXBORO -- Say this for Malcolm Butler: Since his rookie season he's proven time and again to be an utterly resilient player.

Go back to Super Bowl XLIX. He was beside himself on the sidelines after Jermaine Kearse somehow came up with an acrobatic grab on a pass he deflected in the fourth quarter. Moments later he was back on the field to make the play of life.

Against the Jets on Sunday, he had to make another -- albeit less dramatic -- turnaround.

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Early on, it wasn't pretty. He allowed a third-and-long conversion when he played well off of Robby Anderson during a first-quarter touchdown drive. He allowed 31-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley when he made a bad gamble to try to break up the throw.

Yet without Butler's interception at the end of the first half, and without his strip of Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the fourth quarter, the Patriots might be 3-3 headed into a Super Bowl rematch with the Falcons.

The competitive streak that Butler has exhibited to make game-changing moments regardless of what has happened earlier in the game is something that Bill Belichick has grown accustomed to.

"Since the first rookie minicamp," Belichick said. "He’s a very competitive player, whatever it is. Practice, games, trash ball in the locker room. Whatever it is. He’s a very competitive player."

Earlier this season, in Week 2 against the Saints, Butler was briefly demoted to the No. 3 cornerback role. After the fact, he was open about how he wasn't playing up to his own lofty standards. Since then, he's been the only regular for the Patriots at his position as Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe have dealt with injuries. 

It's been far from perfect, as moments like his breakdowns during the Jets game exhibited. But his aggressiveness rarely wanes. Even during down moments in the Patriots locker, apparently. 

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Belichick's comments on Josh Gordon from Wednesday's press conference

Belichick's comments on Josh Gordon from Wednesday's press conference

Question: So, when you say you’re still working through some transactions, we should not ask about Josh Gordon?

Bill Belichick: You can ask. I can’t – we’ll talk about it when it’s done, if it’s done, when it’s done.

Q: So, that transaction is not yet done even though it was on the wire yesterday?

BB: That’s correct.

Q: What is still pending in the process?

BB: The finish of the trade.

Q: What’s the last step that has to be made so it’s done?

BB: I guess it has to be finalized, Tom [Curran]. I guess that would do it.

Q: I’ll sign off on it.

BB: That’s one of the key steps we’ve been waiting for. I’ll make sure everybody knows that. Maybe that can expedite it by a few minutes. 

Q: Can we ask you generally about Gordon as a player previously?

BB: No, I’m not going to talk about players that are not actually, I would say, on our roster totally. So, when that happens, it happens, if it happens.

Q: Since the trade was on the wire, wasn’t it finalized?

BB: There are terms that have to be met before the trade is finalized, and when those are completed, then we’ll have a completed trade. And, until they’re completed, then I’m not going to get into it.

Q: Did you have a chance to meet with Gordon?

BB: Any other questions?

Later in the press conference...

Q: I remember in 2004 or 2005, it was reported widely that you were about to sign Jamal Anderson. That ended up not happening. So when you say you’re not talking about Gordon until it’s finalized, I understand where you’re coming from. Is that more related to why you don’t want to talk about this transaction or because you don’t want the conversation about him?

BB: If and when it happens, I’m happy to talk about it. It’s not completed. So, I don’t understand how we don’t understand that. When it’s completed, it’s completed. If it’s not completed, it’s not completed. And right now, it’s not completed. So, next question.

Q: The reason we don’t understand is because we’ve been out there talking about it for three days and everyone thinks it’s happening, but the person that matters says it’s not.

BB: I’m not saying it’s not going to happen, I’m just saying it’s not completed. It’s a process, and when we’re through with the process, then great. We’re in another situation. Right now, we’re not through the process.

Q: Is this more of an indictment on some of the wide receivers that you have or a testament to the hypothetical opportunity of bringing Gordon in here?

BB: I’d say neither.

Despite Belichick's denials, Gordon practices with Pats

Despite Belichick's denials, Gordon practices with Pats

Bill Belichick continues to insist the Josh Gordon trade isn't completed, and he refuses to comment on a player he claims isn't on the roster.

Well, someone ought to tell him that -- unless someone else is wearing the No. 10 the Patriots issued to Gordon, according to the roster on their official Web site -- the ex-Browns receiver has sneaked into their practice. And if the deal really isn't final, the Patriots are breaking any number of NFL rules by having a player who's officially on someone else's team working out with them . . . 

Belichick's obstinence on the issue is baffling, since the trade has been announced by the Patriots, the Browns and the NFL itself, and the league is selling Gordon's Patriots jersey at its online store. But -- unless the deal was finished to his satisfaction in the hour or so between his press conference and when this picture was taken -- this one's going to be tough for him to explain away at his next media availability, on Friday.

Or maybe DJ Bean's Tweet will take on added significance . . .