This was supposed to be linebacker Victor Butler’s chance to emerge from the shadows. Instead, he’ll stay there at least for another year.
Butler, expected to become a sack-happy outside linebacker in Rob Ryan’s defense with the Saints, tore an ACL on Tuesday after colliding knees with running back Mark Ingram.
While the contact in the supposedly non-contact practice wasn’t intentional, it still happened. And it raises questions about the tempo of these sessions. If the players are moving so quickly that one of them can tear an ACL simply via an accidental collision, they’re arguably moving too quickly, and practicing too intensely.
All players and teams would benefit from further guidance and negotiation from the league and the NFLPA. This year, too many players are suffering serious injuries during non-contact practices, and now the Saints have to scramble to replace Butler.
The current thinking is that Martez Wilson and Junior Galette will get more chances to shine. The Saints also could scan the waiver wire as rosters move from 90 to 53.
The Saints surely would prefer to have Butler. Every team needs to ask itself whether the benefit that arises from close-to-full-speed non-contact practices outweighs the risk of losing key players for the season. The league needs to ask itself whether the only way that will happen is via the application of limits that apply to everyone.