OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: Louis Rankin #40 of the Oakland Raidersl runs against Courtney Brown #27 of the Dallas Cowboys during a preseason game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 13, 2009 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Over the offseason, fourth round pick Victor Butler was lauded for his pass rushing skills and anointed as one of those few who are "NFL-ready." In camp, too, the All American linebacker out of Oregon State has shown great ability in the pass rush, impressing coaches and fans on the turf at the Alamodome.
On Thursday, however, it was clear that Butler still has a long way to go in becoming the player Dallas believes he can be. He was generally ineffective as a part of the pass rush in his NFL debut, and he proved to be, potentially, a major liability against the run (see picture above).
This is the preseason though, the time when all rookies are up against a stiff learning curve and, obviously, Butler is no exception. For Butler, though, the learning curve is just a part of what it takes to break out, and, eventually, maintain a career in the National Football League.
"It was okay," Butler said, evaluating his performance in Oakland. "I had a couple mental errors and mistakes, that you go and watch film and get those things ironed out so the next game you don't come out and make those same mistakes."
Butler said training camp had prepared him, to some degree, for what he saw on Thursday. "Big guys, hitting hard, fast," he said. But the rookie is leaning on established veteran teammates to better adapt to the speed of the game in the NFL.
"You got guys like Bradie James and DeMarcus Ware coming up to you every time and telling you what you need to do better, got guys like Justin Rogers coming up and telling you what you need to do better so on the next play you don't make the same mistakes you made the play before," Butler said.
It was a rough sixty minutes for the former All-American, but also, more importantly perhaps, another step in his ongoing maturation.