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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Donald Butler Embracing Leadership Role
Heading into the 2013 season, Donald Butler knew it would be different. Not because of a new head coach in Mike McCoy, nor because of a new general manager in Tom Telesco. Instead, Butler knew it would be different because he is now one of the clear, indisputable leaders of the Chargers’ defense.
And he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I had to turn up the leadership role a little bit,” Butler said. “Last year we had Takeo Spikes and Shaun Phillips and guys like that who have been in the league and been so productive for so many years. You kind of as a young guy look up to them and try to take notes. And that’s what I did. And so now that that leadership role is bigger for me, I’m definitely pulling out my notes and going from there.”
Along with his heightened leadership role, Butler feels more confident than ever that the defense is maximizing its potential.
“It’s still early, but I feel like especially on the defensive side of the ball we’re getting after it,” he said. “We’re really trying to carry on some things that we created last year which is some turnovers and really getting after people...We added some new pieces and we’re really gelling out there communicating and coming together as a defense. I like it.”
One of the players getting after people is Dwight Freeney. Now that he gets a chance to line up alongside the future Hall-of-Famer, Butler is impressed by his arsenal of moves.
“Oh man, he can rush the passer,” he said with a big grin. “I mean, that patented spin move is ridiculous. I’ve got to get him to teach me it so once I’m rushing off the edge I can get a couple sacks too.”
While he isn’t an established veteran like Freeney, Butler was quick to mention who has impressed him so far.
“Obviously I’m going to say (Manti) Te’o,” Butler answered.. “The young guy came in, obviously had all that other stuff going on, but he just came to me and said ‘I want to work every day and get better, can you help me?’ As a guy who has been here for a little bit, I can’t help but appreciate that. He’s a young guy, energetic, smart and put these pads on he’s a physical guy as well. So I’m definitely looking forward to the things that we can create the next couple of years.”
To watch Butler and the Chargers defense in action, be sure to come out to Chargers Park for the remaining open practice dates, including Saturday’s FanFest.