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Butler Prepares To Step In

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If Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware is unavailable for Saturday night's showdown with the undefeated Saint in New Orleans, he will be replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Victor Butler. Butler stepped in for Ware in practice yesterday, and believes he is ready if needed.

There is some evidence in this regard, with Butler playing well enough in limited time this season. The Oregon State product has seen time at both inside and outside linebacker this season, stacking up three sacks and a forced fumble, which clinched the win over Carolina in week 3.

"Even if you're a third- or fourth-string guy you've got to prepare like you're a starter, because you never know what can happen," Butler said Tuesday. "From what I've heard...I've played pretty well. It wasn't a lot of plays, but you get in there and play solid and it kind of reassures guys that 'hey, we've got a guy that's backing him up that can get in there and do the job.'"

At any rate, Ware, if absent, will leave a leviathan void on the defense. Through his reputation as a pass rusher and a high-motor type of defender, Ware's impact goes far beyond that can be quantified with statistics. According to Butler, Ware also sets the tone for the entire unit on the field, making his potential absence a loathsome thought for the Cowboys and their fans.

The remedy for this possibly damning affliction is a team-wide rallying of sorts.

"With D-Ware you lose a leader," Butler said. "Not only a verbal leader but, I mean, he leads by example and so you just have to step up everywhere. Special teams has to step up, individual guys have to step up to make the team better. Myself or Steve Octavien or Curtis Johnson, we've got to step up and elevate [our] level of play."

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