He missed the majority of training camp and three of the four games in the preseason, but Brad Butler's hamstring isn't going to keep him out of the starting lineup. In a surprise move head coach Dick Jauron named the second-year lineman the starting right guard for his club Sunday.
"Brad Butler is going to be our starting right guard as we go into this game," said Jauron. "We talked about him all through camp and thought he had a chance to compete there and we wanted to get him back healthy. When he got back healthy he looked good and played well in the game. We just think he gives us our best chance there as a starting guard. Nothing against those other guys, they did a nice job but we just went with the decision that we thought was the best."
Butler was thought to be out of the running for the starting right guard job after his missed a month of training camp with a hamstring injury. But the decision shows the staff's confidence in the young lineman.
As is his nature Butler was very humble about the promotion, but is ready to get to work.
"I was obviously happy about it, but I was already focusing on Denver," said Butler. "I don't think about personnel decisions. I just go out there and give 100 percent a day. If they told me tomorrow that I was going to move to defensive tackle that's what I would do and I would go out there and practice as hard as I possibly can. It just doesn't really affect my game."
Butler has superior size to that of veteran Jason Whittle and Duke Preston and has really developed his upper body strength through this past offseason. The University of Virginia product took a two week break after the 2006 regular season came to a close and returned to One Bills Drive for the duration of the offseason.
"It's something that I felt was definitely a weakness last year coming off of offseason shoulder surgery," said Butler of his upper body strength. "I came back in mid-January and the trainers did a great job of putting a program together for me down to every meal I had to eat. They took care of me in the offseason to help me get stronger. Now I'm still not where I want to be because I want to keep working through the season and the next offseason to keep developing my strength, but a lot of the credit goes to those guys."
Despite all the strides that Butler has made his biggest challenge now is getting in sync with right tackle Langston Walker. Butler and Walker have not taken a live snap together and now they'll be playing 50-60 plays next to each other this coming Sunday in the opener.
"It's true that we haven't played next to each other before as far as live action, but that's what the whole offseason is for," said Butler. "I did sit out a month, but we have an offensive line coach in Jim McNally who really stresses technique and communication. We started back in March when Langston and Dockery and all those guys came in and we all rotated together so there's definitely some chemistry there. It'll take some time, but I wouldn't say it's completely new to us."
Walker doesn't seemed concerned either when it comes to playing with his third right guard this offseason, though he admits progress will have to come at a steady pace.
"It's going to be a process," said Walker. "First it's both being on the same page when it comes to plays. I think as long as we know what we're both doing, you go from there. Of course as you progress you sort of learn tricks and things that you can get away with and that's just what we're going to have to work on. That's the process part. Brad is a smart guy who knows the system, so it's not like I have to tell him what to do. I'm not worried about it."
But when it comes to making false calls to keep defenders off balance pre-snap it really won't be an option for the new pairing Sunday.
"We won't be doing any of that," said Walker. "Keep it simple and that's all it takes."
Buffalo's head coach admits it will be a challenge, but sounds confident in the decision that he and his offensive staff has made. They believe inserting Butler at right guard is the best decision for success up front on offense.
"I don't know that it's a taller order, but it's not going to be easy," said Jauron of Butler's new role. "It's never easy to play in this league, but I have confidence he'll get it done."