FOXBORO -- Who's Malcolm Butler? It was the question that rang across New England through the living rooms of Patriots die-hards Thursday night as the Patriots took on the Redskins in their preseason opener.
Washington quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins took their shots at completing passes on Butler -- an undrafted rookie cornerback from West Alabama -- but usually came up empty. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound corner showed good quickness to stay with his assignments and finished with seven tackles and a game-high two passes defensed.
For Butler, who came into camp as a long shot to make the Patriots roster by cracking their experienced defensive back corps, he wasn't satisfied by his work last week. Knowing he needs to make good on every opportunity presented, he wished those passes defensed were interceptions.
"Out of a 10, I give [my performance against the Redskins] a four," Butler said after Sunday's practice. "You can't just drop interceptions. You can't miss tackles. I know I did some great things but if I do bad things it takes away from those great things. That's just how I am with my game and myself. I need to help my team out with those opportunities and catch those balls."
Disappointed as he was with his first preseason game as a pro, Butler was rewarded by getting repetitions with the team's first defense on Sunday. Being out on the field with players like Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty helped to increase his belief in himself, and served as yet another good learning experience in a training camp filled with them.
"I watched them as they play," Butler said. "I listen to them talk. I listen to my coaches correct me, and I listen to them when they correct those guys. Sometimes he corrects them so I know you can never learn too much. You always got to keep your ears open to be the best you can be.
"It gives me a little confidence [to be with them on the field], letting me know I'm doing well. But I've still got a whole lot of work to do."
After a few weeks of training camp and one preseason game, Butler's on the right track to perhaps eventually be a surprise addition to the 53-man roster.