Prior to the New England Patriots’ 2015 season opener, second-year cornerback Malcolm Butler made it clear that he did not want to be defined solely by his game-winning interception in Super Bowl XLIX. While the 25-year old naturally will always be remembered for making one of the best plays in NFL history, his offseason work did pay off.
Butler became one of the Patriots’ starting cornerbacks and brought stability and his ability to cover opposing number one receivers to New England’s re-made secondary. Due to his stellar play in 2015, he earned his first Pro Bowl nod. However, Butler did not participate in yesterday’s game – and we now know why.
The second-year cornerback sat out the Pro Bowl because of a knee injury suffered in last Sunday’s AFC Championship loss in Denver, according to Mike Reiss’ Sunday quick-hit thoughts.
Butler did not leave the game because of the injury, which was not announced during the broadcast. He was on the field for all 68 defensive snaps and finished with five catches allowed on nine targets; giving up 62 yards, while also breaking up two passes.
According to Reiss, the injury is not significant and won’t require surgery. Still, given that Butler did not play in yesterday’s game, it is apparent that the Patriots are playing it safe with their starting cornerback – or that they simply needed a reason to keep Butler away from the Pro Bowl.