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Butler's burst is back

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Blue Bolt, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

    Oct 28, 2009
    Linebacker another year removed from 2010 Achilles' injury
    Written by Michael Gehlken

    When Donald Butler watches himself practice on film, he can’t help but compare his play with footage from last year’s training camp and regular season.

    It’s evident.

    It’s so, so evident.

    The Chargers inside linebacker is entering, for all intents and purposes, his second NFL season after a torn Achilles’ wiped away his rookie year in 2010. He showed promise last year in 16 starts, but maybe more encouraging has been his performance so far at Chargers training camp.

    The film doesn’t lie.

    “My burst to the ball, my reads — everything. I’m a lot quicker out there,” Butler, 23, said. “I had lost a step, for sure, coming back. I wasn’t quite 100 percent last year. Now, I feel I can burst off my left side, really hold a block and get off a block. I feel a lot faster out there, both physically and mentally.”

    Butler, despite the lingering limitations, was strong in the Chargers’ base defense in 2011, defending the run well while flashing what coach Norv Turner calls “real good” football instincts.

    The former third-round pick from Washington had 95 tackles, two sacks and an interception. In Week 7, he twirled Jets tight end Dustin Killer in a circling arm tackle, ripped away the football and scampered 37 yards for a touchdown.

    Through it all, Butler maintained he didn’t feel fully back.

    It was his goal over the past several month to reach that point.

    “Donald did a great job in the offseason getting himself ready,” Turner said. “He didn’t spend half of it rehabbing. He spent the whole time getting his body ready to go play. I see him playing faster, and then, having played a year, there’s a comfort level, and things on the other side slow down.”
    After an afternoon practice last week, Chargers outside linebacker Jarret Johnson had a tough time making it back to the locker room.

    He granted an interview request here. An interview request there and there. Multiple times, he found ways to bring up Butler’s development.

    “Donnie is an extremely versatile inside linebacker,” Johnson said. “He’s got a ton of upside. He reminds me a lot of Bart Scott and Jameel McClain, a couple guys that I thought a lot of that I played with (in Baltimore). A ton of upside, very athletic and is still just a young guy. He hasn’t reached his peak yet. He’s going to be a good one.”

    Inside linebacker Takeo Spikes, 35, starts alongside Butler.

    He played 947 snaps last year to Butler’s 652, but in a best-case scenario, those numbers would be roughly reversed this season.

    The Chargers look to monitor Spikes’ snap count, and limiting his action on third down is a start. Butler is working on his pass coverage skills to potentially play in the team’s nickel defense, likely alongside Demorrio Williams.

    All that is developing now over the course of training camp and the preseason.

    Spikes, who’s been through a torn Achilles’ himself, said he likes the strides he sees from Butler, now a second year removed from injury.

    “I can tell the difference,” Spikes said. “I experienced the same thing in ‘05 when I came back in ‘06. My step wasn’t good. It takes time with the Achilles’. I could tell in the spring he was moving around better, more comfortable. The term we use as athletes is ‘fluid.’ He looks more like an athlete.

    “I think he has a lot of ability. He has all the tools in his box. The rest relies on him. But I think the sky is the limit for him.”
  2. _Oz

    _Oz Banned Banned

    Jul 11, 2012
    Ghelkin makes shills like Acehole look intrepid

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