New England Patriots CB Malcolm Butler provides 'wow!' moments at practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There are so many notable and important things that happen during a New England Patriots two-hour practice, but some days, one thing so clearly stands out above the rest that it simply makes you say, "Wow."

That's how I'd describe the team's Monday practice, specifically with cornerback Malcolm Butler.

Once again locking down Darrelle Revis' old left cornerback spot, Butler showed a little bit of everything in a performance that had me thinking about days watching practice with ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates and looking at players through more of a scouting lens.

Reactive athleticism? Butler showed the ability to mirror receivers, as I watched him blanket receiver Josh Boyce on one play as Boyce attempted to change directions over the middle.

Ball skills? His one-handed interception on a Tom Brady pass over the middle certainly qualifies.

Explosion? Jumping a short crossing route by Boyce over the middle to intercept a Brady pass decisively showed that aspect of his game.

Long speed? Butler displayed it by running stride for stride with first-year receiver Jonathan Krause (who reportedly ran a 4.37 time in the 40 at his pro day in 2014) along the right sideline.

Leaping ability? Butler rose high into the air after running stride for stride with Krause, timing his leap perfectly as Tom Brady's high-arcing pass arrived.

Technique? It seemed to be picture-perfect, as Butler turned at just the right moment to make the play on the long bomb intended for Krause.

Added value? At one point, he also scooped up a blocked field goal and would have been headed to the other end zone for a touchdown.

This isn't to overstate one practice, and also doesn't overlook that Butler is far from a finished product and there's still a long way to go. But sometimes you just see something in a player and say "That looks different than most everyone else." It was similar to the way I used to feel watching receiver Randy Moss run down the field at times.

Butler has a little of that "it looks different than everyone else" in him, and those in attendance Monday for the full-pads practice got a chance to see it themselves.

A few other observations from practice:

  • Newly-signed quarterback Ryan Lindley, wearing No. 7, participated in his first practice with the team after signing a one-year deal on Monday. The right-handed quarterback forced one throw over the middle in 11-on-11 work and it was intercepted by safety Duron Harmon. Joining the team for the 10th training camp practice, Lindley is in a tough spot and it showed a bit. But the Patriots gave him some extra work after practice as they prepare him for potential action in Thursday's preseason opener.

  • Receiver Julian Edelman is making progress and shouldn't be a long-term injury concern after coming up a bit gimpy at the end of an Aug. 2 practice. He hasn't fully practiced since, but he was on the field for the start of Monday's session and worked a bit before departing.

  • The team is thin at running back, with LeGarrette Blount (right knee), Travaris Cadet, Dion Lewis and Tyler Gaffney all sidelined. That has left Jonas Gray, James White and Brandon Bolden to get the bulk of the work. Hence the signing of undrafted rookie Tony Creecy, who could see a lot of work in the second half Thursday night.

  • Special teams captain Matthew Slater came off the physically unable to perform list, and defensive tackle Alan Branch came off the non-football injury list to practice for the first time. Both answered questions from reporters afterwards. Meanwhile, first-round pick Malcom Brown returned after missing two days of practice, while receiver Brian Tyms returned for the first time since being carted off and wore a red, non-contact jersey. So the injury picture didn't look as bad Monday as it did on Saturday.

  • We'll keep an eye on starting left tackle Nate Solder, who walked off the field under his own power about halfway through the session and didn't return. It didn't seem to be injury-based.

  • Undrafted free-agent center David Andrews stepped in for Bryan Stork at center. He's a player who has caught the eye in recent days because he seems to be hanging in with the various line calls and has been fairly consistent with the shotgun snap.

  • Linebacker Jerod Mayo delivered a notable hit on tight end Rob Gronkowski over the middle, a reminder that Mayo seems to be hitting his stride and practicing without many restrictions, if at all.