The New England Patriots’ defense has been among the worst in the league through the first three weeks of the season. But while the unit has struggled, there have been bright spots from individual players.

One of those bright spots came from Malcolm Butler on Sunday. The cornerback, who was surprisingly missing from the starting lineup against the Saints, had a bounce-back performance against the Texans. He finished having only allowed two completions against him for 10 total yards.

“I think Malcolm did a good job,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. “All of our defensive backs – I thought they were pretty competitive. We had some scramble yardage and loose plays and things like that, but the normal passing game we were pretty competitive on.”

Butler had been critical of his own performance earlier in the season, but said he was “finding (his) way back” last week.

Butler himself was not quite as ready to declare himself as “back.”

“I think I’m building,” Butler said. “I think I’m taking it one step at a time. There’s a lot of football to be played so whatever you see, judge it.”


GIANTS: The Giants say they will internally handle Odell Beckham Jr.’s embarrassing post-touchdown celebration.

Co-owner John Mara said in an email that he was unhappy with Beckham’s behavior Sunday in Philadelphia.

Beckham pretended to urinate like a dog after catching a fourth-quarter touchdown in the Giants’ 27-24 loss to the Eagles. He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. The NFL probably will fine him.

DOLPHINS: Miami lifted the suspension of Lawrence Timmons after one week, and he’s eligible to play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints in London. Timmons was suspended indefinitely after he went AWOL the day before the Dolphins’ season-opening win at the Los Angeles Chargers. The Dolphins filed a missing person report before making contact with the 11th-year veteran, who apparently was dealing with a personal matter.

Coach Adam Gase was angered by the disappearance of Timmons, who wasn’t with the Dolphins at their opener and didn’t fly back to South Florida on the team plane after Miami’s 19-17 win.

He wanted to rejoin the team last week, and several players said they would welcome him back.


PANTHERS: The Panthers say team captains and other selected players met with owner Jerry Richardson at his home to “discuss social issues affecting the league and solutions moving forward.”

CHIEFS: The Chiefs placed kicker Cairo Santos on injured reserve and claimed rookie kicker Harrison Butker off the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad.

The Chiefs did not say whether Santos would be designated to return his season. He would need to remain on IR for at least six weeks, then have two weeks to return to the roster.

Santos was hit on a field-goal attempt in Sunday’s victory over the Chargers, drawing a personal foul penalty, but Coach Andy Reid did not mention him among the injuries after the game.

RAMS: Police say defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks was arrested after an officer saw a stolen gun in his car when he was pulled over for speeding.

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