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Malcolm Butler had a tough assignment in the Patriots opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was to cover Antonio Brown, who some would say is the best receiver in the league at the moment. While Malcolm Butler did struggle, giving up 133 yards and a TD to Antonio Brown, he can still develop into a good #1 option at cornerback, and there are a couple reasons for that.

Reason 1 is that he has shown the ability to put past plays behind him, which he showed in the Super Bowl when he gave up the miracle catch to Jermaine Kearse, then came back a few plays later and made the game-winning interception. That is an important trait for any player, especially a cornerback. The great ones, like Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, have that ability to put the previous play behind them and move on to the next play, and the fact that Malcolm Butler has shown signs of that is great sign for him.

Reason 2 is that he was still pretty tight on Brown despite giving up 133 yards for the most part, and Tedy Bruschi alluded to this on WEEI on Monday:

“I think you should feel good about him,” he said. “I’ll go ahead and take that step because they tested him too. The times they won on him he was still contesting things, he was competing and that’s really what you want to see on those corners that have to matchup.”

I noticed this as well, and I liked the fact that Butler was at least able to get his hand in there and make things a little tougher against one of the best all-around wide receivers in football.

And, last but not least, he can only go up from here. Looking ahead, this might be the toughest matchup he has this season, at least until the playoffs. The Patriots play the Dallas Cowboys Week 5 in Dallas, but Dez Bryant (out 4-6 weeks) will miss that game after breaking his foot against the New York Giants on Sunday night, so Dallas will be minus their #1 receiver. The Colts are the week after that, but the Patriots have had their number in recent years. After that, the toughest remaining match up is against the Denver Broncos, who have a few solid receivers, including Demayrius Thomas, but no one on the level of Antonio Brown. By that point in the season, Malcolm Butler will have developed into a much better corner, I think, so I think he will be fine for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

Butler isn't quite there yet, but his ceiling is pretty high, I think. This was his first full start as the #1 corner for the Patriots, and he's already taken his first step. The next step is the Buffalo Bills next Sunday in Buffalo.

Thoughts? Disagree? Leave a comment below or tweet me (@C_Frederick1016) and let me know.

Conor Frederick 9/15/2015 01:11:00 PM Edit
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