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Donald Butler ready to rise as leader

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Bolts4lyfe, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Bolts4lyfe

    Bolts4lyfe BoltTalker

    Mar 25, 2012
    Donald Butler was told a time would come.
    A time when making plays wasn't enough, when production went beyond the stat sheet, when a signature role for greats at his position needed to become his.

    The Chargers inside linebacker looks around. He sees it now.
    "I think it's my time to be that vocal leader," Butler said this week. "That's what I'm going to do."
    Six of the Chargers' 11 defensive starters from last year's opening roster are either free agents or have signed with a different team. The list includes three on the front seven — inside linebacker Takeo Spikes, outside linebacker Shaun Phillips and nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin — with a combined 34 years of NFL experience.

    Some veteran leadership was lost.
    With Butler's rising voice, the team hasn't scrambled to replace it.
    On March 7, Spikes, a team captain the past two years, was released. On March 12, Phillips and Franklin became free agents. On March 13, Butler didn't wake up suddenly wanting to become a vocal leader.
    The preparation began long ago.
    Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano approached in 2010 a rookie from Washington with the concept of one day filling the role. Pagano coached the team's linebackers at the time.
    “Pagano said that that's what he eventually needed me to do,” Butler, 24, said. “Since Day 1, I've just been listening and watching, ears open and really just trying to learn as much as I can about being a leader, the guys around me and really, to lead by example.”

    Ask a Chargers veteran about Butler becoming a leader.

    Their answer: he already is.
    Look to the field where, after a torn Achilles' sidelined him his rookie season, Butler's made 173 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles with two touchdowns in 28 games the past two years.
    He became an every-down linebacker last season, playing on the nickel defense after being rotated out the year prior. All told, the former third-round draft choice didn't miss a snap in 11 of 12 games played, the exception during a November game against the Ravens in which he sustained a first-half groin injury.
    Butler didn't belong on the field, but he tried anyway, beginning the second half before the team shut him down after the first snap.
    Vocal leaders come in different breeds.

    Some are the center of a pre-game huddle, screaming to teammates, hopping up and down. Others choose to speak with them on a more individual basis.
    "I think I'm a little bit of both,” Butler said. “I'm not really like, 'Ahh! Rah-rah-rah!' But for sure, I'll get in your face. And there were times where me and TK (Spikes) would shoot ideas off each other. I'd be like, 'Yeah, make sure you talk to them about this before the game,' or vice versa.”
    Butler is entering the final season of his rookie contract.
    The new Chargers front office is expected to make a strong push to ensure he never sees free agency. A homegrown talent like Butler fits the build-through-the-draft philosophy of new general manager Tom Telesco, who considers rewarding his own players a key element to building a sustained winner.

    Butler will see what becomes of his contract.
    As for becoming a leader, he's seen what it takes from veterans still on the team and those now off it.
    "I think the biggest thing is obviously productivity on the field," Butler said with a laugh. "That's number one because if you're not out there making plays, you can't lead. But it's the things they did on a daily basis, whether that be in the weight room, doing extra things, or in the classroom, always being a step ahead of our position coach. 'Oh, I know that. I know this. I know that.'
    “Really, having those inspirational words and knowing your guys, knowing the people that you're out there on the field with, being able to get them going, be able to push just the right button or say just the right thing. It's special to be able to do that, and they were about to do it through all their years in the league."
    Now, it's his turn.
  2. Pointyearedog

    Pointyearedog I only put idiots on ignore...

    Aug 19, 2008
    Yup, the Butler did it...

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