SAN DIEGO – One year ago, inside linebacker
Getting reps with the first-team defense and pointed toward his first NFL preseason game, Butler’s season ended in an instant. Fast-forward to Monday, and again Butler practiced some with the first defense.
In between was a long, grinding rehab to which Butler devoted himself, drawing praise from Head Coach Norv Turner.
“He’s physically managing his situation. I know he gets sore at the end of practice. He’s fighting through that extremely well,” Turner said. “He’s done all the things he can do right now to show us that he’s getting ready to play.”
The 2010 third-round draft pick out of Washington still hasn’t played in an NFL game. His moment is three days away, and Turner is interested in how well Butler’s athleticism translates to a full-pads, full-speed situation.
“Thursday night is his first opportunity to play in our defense and go tackle,” Turner said. “The game changes a great deal when you’ve got to go tackle those guys. Going against another team’s first unit and recognizing the differences in what they’re doing.
“It’ll be fun to watch him because he’s going to do some good things and I know he’s going to have some struggles because this is his first opportunity to play as a National Football League player.”
RED ZONE JACKPOT:
On Monday, he began imposing his will, catching two red zone passes in traffic near the back of the end zone and tip-toeing his feet down in-bounds. He nearly caught a third in the same sequence, angling his body for a high-velocity slant placed low and away.
ANXIOUS FOR UNKNOWNS: Turner likened his anticipation for the early preseason games to football die-hards and media types that fawn over unheralded young players that emerge and make the team.
Earlier in camp, Turner admitted college free agents have even longer odds than usual due to the absence of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) in May and June.
“I think those are the fun guys because you don’t know a lot about them,” Turner said when asked about running back
“We’ve had too many casts of guys stepping up and becoming very good players, and they’ve come from a lot of different situations. So we’re going to give every guy the benefit of the doubt and the chance to go see what they can do.”
TICKET EXTENSION: The NFL granted the Chargers a 24-hour extension in an effort to sell enough tickets to lift the local TV blackout of Thursday night’s Chargers-Seahawks game at Qualcomm Stadium.
San Diego must sell 3,700 general tickets before 5 p.m. Tuesday, 48 hours before kickoff. Several hundred Club seats – some of the best seats in the stadium – also are available.
If the blackout is lifted, fans in San Diego can watch on ESPN and KFMB-TV.
Tickets may be purchased on chargers.com, by calling (800) 745-3000, or at the Chargers ticket office (Gate C, Qualcomm Stadium), which is open Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.