Malcolm Butler's lack of playing time was one of the biggest surprises of Super Bowl LII. However, Pats safety Devin McCourty told NJ Advance Media this week that the New England players knew what was going to happen before the game.

Per ESPN's Mike Reiss, McCourty said that "We all knew he wasn't starting all week. That wasn't a secret to the guys on the team...I get why people are fishing. The guy played 98 percent of the plays [in the regular season]. I just hate that for him character-wise going into free agency; it's just not true. As far as I know, and I was there all week, not one time did anything come up."

As Reiss pointed out, though, that narrative conflicts with what some other teammates said after the game. Eric Rowe, Butler's replacement, insinuated that he didn't know he would be starting until less than 72 hours before kickoff, and defensive tackle Alan Branch said that "I didn't know anything, honestly," when asked about Butler.

The 41-33 loss is undoubtedly hard to swallow for Patriots fans everywhere. Given the poor cornerback play throughout the game, McCourty's statement that the team was preparing to play without Butler only raises more questions.

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Aidan Stenson 2/21/2018 02:05:00 AM Edit

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