BOSTON (CBS) — Malcolm Butler’s reduced role has led to a wide range of speculation in the past few days. It’s gone as far as discussions of the cornerback declining as a player or possibly even being on the trading block this season.
So Devin McCourty took it upon himself to tell everyone to “chill on all the Malcolm Butler craziness.”
Making his regular appearance on CSNNE’s “Quick Slants” and donning a Snoopy shirt with simply the word “CHILL” across the front, McCourty assured Patriots fans and observers that Butler’s teammates still have his back. He also thinks the speculation, stemming from Butler’s reduced role last Sunday in New Orleans, has just gotten out of control.
“I mean, we’re reading between the lines, it’s ‘Coach said this’, ‘This is what this means’. Let’s all just chill,” said McCourty. “Malcolm’s a great player. [He’s] very trusted from where it matters, his teammates. We all trust Malcolm. There’s never been any doubt with any of the guys in that locker room of his performance and what he does on the field and the type of player he’s been since he’s gotten here.”
McCourty did acknowledge that Butler’s snap count was scaled back against the Saints last Sunday, which could have been due to what has been perceived as a subpar performance for him so far in 2017. The safety hinted that Butler could be letting himself get distracted by off-field issues and simply needs to focus on football.
“I still have great confidence in [Butler] as a player,” said McCourty. “I always tell him, ‘Control what you can control.’ And I thought he did a good job of coming in with a different role Sunday, and still playing well.”
Although he didn’t get the start against the Saints last Sunday, Butler still played 49 out of 65 defensive snaps (75 percent). It’s possible that his reduced role was simply matchup-related, but few would argue that the corner has played up to his usual standard so far. He may just need more time to adjust to playing with his new teammate Stephon Gilmore and will, like the Patriots usually do as a team, get better as the season goes along.