Vicksburg’s Butler picked to play in NFL’s Pro Bowl

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015

In the span of two seasons, Malcolm Butler has gone from a longshot to Super Bowl hero and now, one of the NFL’s best.

The New England Patriots cornerback and former Vicksburg High star was selected to his first Pro Bowl on Tuesday. It’s the latest accolade for Butler, who is in his second season in the league after signing with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent from West Alabama.

Butler made the game-saving interception in the final seconds of New England’s 28-24 win over Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX in February, then moved into the starting lineup this season after veterans Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner departed in free agency.

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Butler has started all 14 games this season for the Patriots (12-2) and quickly became one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. He only has two interceptions this season but has been credited with a team-best 15 pass deflections. He’s also made 60 tackles. In last week’s win over Tennessee, Butler had five total tackles, one interception, and had another interception negated by a penalty.

Butler was one of seven Patriots to make the Pro Bowl roster. Also picked were quarterback Tom Brady; linebacker and former Southern Miss star Jamie Collins; kicker and former Madison Central star Stephen Gostkowski; tight end Rob Gronkowski; defensive end Chandler Jones; and wide receiver Matthew Slater, who made it as a special teams player.

The Patriots have now had at least five players picked for the Pro Bowl in each of the last seven seasons.

The undefeated Carolina Panthers led the league with 10 Pro Bowlers, including quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Josh Norman. Seattle and Arizona also had seven players apiece make the roster.

The New Orleans Saints did not have any Pro Bowlers.

The Pro Bowl is Jan. 31 — the Sunday between the conference championship games and Super Bowl — in Honolulu, Hawaii. The format for the game is the same as in recent years, with team captains Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice serving as alumni captains and drafting their teams. The draft will be on Jan. 27.