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Butler rebuilding more than his knee

Posted Jan 19, 2010

Rarely does he like to discuss his personal game or pat himself on the back, often deflecting credit to teammates or coaches. So it was only natural to understand Brad Butler’s reticent nature concerning his rehab from a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 of this past season against Tampa Bay.

“I’m on schedule and I’m happy and the trainers are happy with where I’m at,” he said.

A promising first season back at offensive tackle where he played his entire college career at Virginia disappeared as quickly as a puff of smoke, and the long road of rehabilitation was soon to follow.

He’s been through offseason rehab before, spending much of the offseason before and after his rookie year getting his shoulder right following surgery coming out of college. So the daily grind was nothing new for Butler.

What was new was all the change that has occurred since his injury. New teammates on the offensive line like Jamon Meredith, Andre Ramsey and Richie Incognito, a new general manager in Buddy Nix, and eventually, a new head coach and staff.

“Certainly there are going to be a lot of changes and anything can happen any day,” Butler said. “But I don’t look at that like a negative. It would be easy to sit around and not have new challenges every week, but it’s something that doesn’t really worry me. I’ve got to concentrate on myself and my rehab and just focus on getting back to full health.”

For Butler being sidelined during the season forced him to be patient, something that wasn’t always in his nature, in light of his fiery demeanor on the playing field. The rehab process has also compelled him to take a more methodical approach, when his innate work ethic tells him to run instead of walk.

“It’s about going to the rehab room every day and getting one or five pounds better every time you do a different lift or get two or three more degrees in range of motion better than the day before,” he said. “It certainly humbles you when you’re a big strong 300-pound man and you start back in rehab lifting four or five pounds with your leg to start.”

Now about four months removed the time of the injury Butler is making strides not only with his rehab, but in re-establishing some chemistry on the offensive line.

Butler isn’t the only lineman set to spend a good portion of the offseason in Buffalo rehabbing after a major surgical procedure. He’s accompanied in the training room on a fairly regular basis by Eric Wood, who broke his left tibia and fibula in Buffalo’s Week 11 game at Jacksonville.

He doesn’t deny lining up next to the guy he was supposed to line up alongside for 16 games this past season, helps both of them with their current task at hand.

“It’s the same thing when you’re out there in training camp with two a days on a hot day,” he said. “Having your teammates go through it with you and keeping the mood light and realizing everyone is working together to try to get some wins. It has been helpful.”

The time spent in the training room and weight room together has helped to build a greater bond between the two linemen that spent just two regular season games working together on the right side of Buffalo’s line. This offseason however, they’re making up for the lost time on the field.

“It really has been a blessing to get to know Eric (Wood) on a much more personal level, doing rehab together and we spend time together outside of football,” said Butler. “He’s a tremendous player and the one thing I love about Eric Wood is he loves the game of football. There are so few people in the NFL that I think truly desire to be there every single day and he’s one of those rare people and a tremendous asset for the Bills and their future. Ultimately I think it helps with our chemistry down the road in practice and games.”

Exactly how that chemistry will be implemented is a question mark right now. Will Butler remain at tackle? Will he line up next to Wood as he did at the start of last season? The answers will be provided by the new coaching staff.

Change however, is something Buffalo’s linemen have already experienced. And knowing those changes compromised a lot of the goals they had for 2009, they knew more change was on the horizon.

“When it comes to change, that’s part of the NFL,” said Butler. “If anybody hasn’t learned that change is something that goes on every day in this league then they weren’t paying attention this past year to the Buffalo Bills.”

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