IRVING, Texas – The second-leading tackler entering the Cowboys' third preseason game wasn't a defensive lineman or linebacker.
With five solo tackles against the Chargers and four combined tackles against the Raiders, defensive back Mario Butler displayed an ability to bring down receivers and backs in the open field through the first two preseason games.
Butler, who can play cornerback, safety and in the slot on the nickel package, then added a sack against the Rams on Saturday. He said the knock on cornerbacks is that they can't tackle, but he's made changing that reputation a goal since last year.
"Being a willing tackler, it's just a mentality," Butler said. "I take that mentality on. I know that's going to give me a better chance to make the team, being able to open-field tackle, plus being able to play three positions. I think that's a huge plus."
The versatile defensive back said his flexibility could be the key to making the team this year. Butler, who signed with Dallas in 2011 as a rookie free agent from Georgia Tech, made it to the Cowboys' final cuts last season before being released and joining the practice squad.
With Mike Jenkins still out and C.J. Wilson released Monday, Butler is one step closer to making the team.
"I think I've been making a lot of plays," Butler said. "My job is to make it hard on the people who make the decision, and I think I've been doing that. As long as I keep doing that, I think I'll be OK. I know I've just got to go out on Wednesday and complete that task. I'm up for the challenge."
The fourth and final preseason game Wednesday is a chance for the backups to make their final impressions, as they'll play the majority or entirety of the game.
He said he needs to demonstrate every element of a solid cornerback Wednesday, including recognition and awareness, if he wants to secure a roster spot.
While Butler is perhaps the only player on the roster capable of stepping in at any position in the defensive backfield, he knows now is not the time to be complacent or get comfortable.
"I wouldn't say comfortable," Butler said. "I'm always trying to make plays. I think comfortable is a bad word when you're in a position on the bubble. I 'm always just fighting, trying to scratch, claw, do everything I can to give myself the best chance to make the roster."