Malcolm Butler admitted after his first training camp practice as a Tennessee Titan that last season’s Super Bowl benching has given him a little added motivation this season.
Butler, who was mysteriously benched, playing just one play in the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl LII loss to Philadelphia, departed early in free agency for a new start with the Titans that included a five-year, $61 million contract.
“Most definitely,” Butler said when asked if the benching, coupled with the Patriots’ loss, would be extra motivation for 2018 for him.
“I’m very fueled, and I’ve always been this way, but I’ve a little extra gas in the tank,” said Butler, who three years earlier had been the hero of Super Bowl XLIX, picking off Russell Wilson’s pass at the goal line to preserve a win over the Seahawks.
Butler has never divulged the reason for his benching, and neither has Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who avoided revisiting it at the Patriots’ opened camp, despite badgering from reporters on the topic.
Butler certainly set the tone for Titans training camp practice on Thursday when he called out receiver Corey Davis in one-on-one drills, asking to challenge him. Davis broke inside and the throw from quarterback Marcus Mariota was on the mark. But Butler would not be denied, wrestling the ball away from the second-year receiver, then punting it to the other end of the field as the drill came to an end.
After punting the ball, Butler could be heard on the practice field yelling at Davis, “This ain’t no (expletive) OTAs.”
Butler was 3-0 in 1v1’s this morning pic.twitter.com/3BeX0IPc9o
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) July 26, 2018
After practice, he talked about the play.
“I love my boy, Corey, but I told him I had to get him back from the playoff game,” Butler said.
The ultra-competitive Butler was talking about Davis’ two touchdown catches in the Titans’ divisional playoff loss to the Patriots last season.
Coach Mike Vrabel, himself enough of a competitor that he did some drills with the linebackers and defensive to give them the look he wanted them to have, said Butler’s competitiveness is what he wants to see from everyone on the roster.
“I think that’s camp and daily life. We want a bunch of guys that are competitive. If you go out there and play pick-up basketball, or if they play dominoes or we played poker, or we played whatever it is, I want guys doing that, Vrabel said. “That’s the type of guy you want to build a roster around. Competitive guys, not just in a football drill, but in life. Those are usually the people that are successful and are winners.”