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Under the Radar Butler Shows Off Versatility Against Chargers
SAN DIEGO - There were a lot of good things to talk about when it came the Cowboys’ cornerbacks in their preseason loss to the Chargers.
Newly acquired veteran, Brandon Carr, picked off Phillip Rivers on two separate occasions. Highly touted rookie, Morris Claiborne, made his NFL debut. Read
But under the radar, Mario Butler showed off his impressive versatility. Butler played the majority of his snaps with the second and third team, but he was quite impressive as he recorded five tackles (tied for second most on the team) and broke up a couple of passes as well.
Butler made the Cowboys roster last year as an undrafted rookie, but spent the season on the practice squad. On a team loaded at the cornerback position, Butler came into training camp in 2012 with something that would get him noticed: versatility.
Butler, who played cornerback for four years at Georgia Tech, learned how to play Rob Ryan’s defense from the nickel and safety positions as well. It takes a keen understanding of defensive responsibilities for a player to make a position switch. However, Butler’s versatility was put to the test on a constant basis. He actually switched from position to position midgame and played three different positions on Saturday night.
So the phrase “he was all over the field tonight” literally applies to Butler. He not only made tackles on receivers, but numerous tackles on running backs as well including an open field tackle on Curtis Brinkley for a loss of a yard.
Butler talked about the difficulty of switching positions and responsibilities during a game.
“Oh yeah, it’s tough,” Butler said. “It’s really difficult, especially if you don’t get a lot of reps in practice at everything. You just have to be mentally tough and study your playbook and stuff of that nature to be prepared for the game.”
As a player fighting for a spot on the team, Butler knows that his versatility will increase his value and therefore his chances of getting in games during the regular season.
“I think that’s all part of the plan,” Butler said. “Just being able to be valuable, especially when it comes to making the 53-man roster. Being able to balance three different positions I think that can be very valuable.”
On a night where Carr and Claiborne got most of the attention Butler talked about his own contributions (and mistakes) that he brought to the game.
“I think I did a pretty good job,” Butler said. “I had a couple errors. It’s nothing I can’t fix. Pretty positive game so far. Every week you just want to learn from the mistakes you made the previous weeks and never make the same mistake twice.”
The mistake that Butler is referring to was a gamble that he made in the fourth quarter while playing safety. While trying to make a big play he was apart of a broken coverage that resulted in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Whitehurst to Mike Willie. Butler admitted that he was going for a big hit on Willie and that is what caused the blown coverage.
“I did (go for the big hit), but that’s not an excuse” Butler said. “I’m supposed to make that tackle.”
To Butler’s credit, he also admitted that getting the correct angles down for all three positions is a very difficult task so for him to be out of place on one play is not all that surprising. He talked about the subtle differences that come with each position.
“Just getting the experience and being on the field for all three positions from going to corner to nickel, from nickel to safety, there’s a little bit of an adjustment you got to make on how you train your mind and your eyes. There’s a lot of stuff that go on there for each of them.”
Jerry Jones paid Butler quite the compliment when he said that Butler is making it hard to get rid of him. Butler claims that he soaks up knowledge from players at all three positions so that there will always be at least one reason to keep him around.
“That’s been my goal since day one,” Butler said. “That’s my main thing is to continue get better in practice. You learn from what’s on the field and from the ones that are on the field. Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Mike Jenkins and Gerald. Each position I switch to I have someone to look up to so that’s the good part about it.”