FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Everybody knows the name of Malcolm Butler, the New England Patriots' Super Bowl hero. That wasn't the case last Oct. 26, when he saw mop-up duty in a blowout win over the Chicago Bears. He played only 15 snaps, but he broke up two passes and made an impression on one of the Bears' receivers, Brandon Marshall.
"He came in and did a great job vs. Alshon [Jeffery] on a couple of plays in that game," Marshall said Friday. "I was a little shocked. I was like, 'This kid can play a little bit.' I overlooked him when he was standing in front of me. He made a few plays and I'm like, 'This kid can be special.'"
Nobody knew about Butler until the Super Bowl, when he clinched the Patriots' victory by intercepting Russell Wilson 's pass at the goal line in the final seconds. Because of offseason upheaval -- the Patriots said goodbye to Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner -- Butler has become the Patriots' No. 1 cornerback. He plays both sides in their defense, so you'll probably see many Butler-Marshall matchups when the New York Jets meet the Patriots on Sunday.
"He's feisty," Marshall said. "He reminds me a lot of Buster [Skrine]. It's going to be tough to make plays on him. He has tremendous makeup speed, and he competes. He's tough."
Maybe so, but he's still a former undrafted player from West Alabama. Statistically, Butler isn't having a great year. He already has allowed four touchdown passes and a 119 passer rating, according to Pro Football Focus. If he covers Marshall, the Patriots probably will roll coverage to his side, providing deep help. If it's single coverage -- Butler vs. Marshall -- the Jets would be very happy.