The obvious story of Saturday night’s win over the unbeaten Saints in New Orleans was that of DeMarcus Ware, who returned after suffering a neck injury against San Diego to the tune of two strip-sacks; one of these ended the game, for all practical purposes, which presented those paid to tell such stories a pre-packaged gem with a bow wrapped around it.
Indeed, I wrote today about Ware’s heroics. It’s not to say the numerous stories aren’t well-founded or justified in their number—because they are. But another, slightly less notable story, came from Ware’s potential replacement, rookie Victor Butler, who saw an increased role with Ware limited.
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Butler, a rookie out of Oregon State, had shown flashes of promise earlier in the season, including a game against Carolina that saw him—replacing a tired Anthony Spencer in the fourth quarter—sack Jake Delhomme twice, including a strip sack to end the game.
Still, the prospect of Butler being tossed into the fire as a starter against the Saints was a little frightening for Cowboys fans. Wade Phillips said recently that he’s played well at times but wondered aloud if he “was there” yet. With Ware suiting up and playing, any complete answer to that question has been thankfully delayed.
What Butler did do on Saturday though, in an expanded role, can be filed under steps in the right direction. Though the rookie had just one tackle, he did not allow the Saints’ ursine front to take advantage of him on running plays, and his presence on early downs allowed a fresh DeMarcus Ware to be at his best when it counted, on third downs.
“You can talk about D-Ware,” said linebacker Bradie James. “But our rookie Victor Butler stepped in, he played first and second down, he played a heck of a game.”