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Victor Butler Taking Advantage of His Opportunities

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    If there's an upside to all of the injuries in Cowboys camp this summer, it will be because players forced into bigger roles show a capability to help the team in the regular season.

    Victor Butler has done that in the team's first two preseason games. Butler had a sack, a tackle for loss and a hit on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers while playing in place of DeMarcus Ware a week after a strong showing while filling in for Anthony Spencer, the other Cowbous outside linebacker battling a hamstring problem.

    Butler's pass rushing skills are no great surprise. He has racked up eight sacks in his first three seasons with the Cowboys despite getting limited playing time behind the two starters. Since the Cowboys have a serious need for pass rushers that aren't Ware, it's worth wondering why Butler has had such a hard time getting on the field.

    While it is true that Butler hasn't shown much ability to do anything else all that well, that shouldn't be a huge concern given the starters at outside linebacker. Ware is one of the league's best defensive players and what Spencer lacks as an edge rusher he makes up for with his coverage skills and run stopping. 

    The Cowboys didn't have enough playmakers up front last season, leaving the secondary exposed far too often on passing plays. Even with the expected upgrade to Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne at cornerback, Dallas will struggle to stop good passing teams if they aren't able to make quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket.

    Butler should get every opportunity to play that role for them this season, whether it is as a nickel linebacker, third-down defensive end or some other configuration that Rob Ryan dreams up. He's the kind of player who can force a fumble or kill a drive in the fourth quarter instead of watching a lead disappear because the opposition knows they can concentrate on slowing Ware while the rest of the defense wanders around aimlessly.

    This would all be true if Butler didn't get the chance to start twice in the preseason, but the circumstances have forced it to the surface. The Cowboys would be foolish to ignore it any longer.