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Butler getting up to speed

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Defensive tackle Vernon Butler is going through a typical training camp experience for rookies.

Cramp up in the Spartanburg heat? Check.

Carry pads for the veterans after practice? Check.

Purchase snacks and a sound system for the defensive line? Check.

"Rookie duties," Butler said with a head shake and a smile.

And when it comes to on-field performance, Butler is experiencing those rookie growing pains.

"It most certainly will be a work in progress," head coach Ron Rivera said of the first-round pick from Louisiana Tech. "When you watch him, the thing I'd like to see him do is finish. By that I mean you'll watch him get into certain positions during the play and he may be in a positive position, but he's got to learn to finish that position off. Just because you've got a step on your guy doesn't mean you've won. That's what he has to learn."

Butler was drafted to wreak havoc along the interior. He's learning what it will take to accomplish that at the next level.

"We're focused on getting off the ball, disrupting the backfield and getting to the quarterback," Butler said. "Use my hands and use my athleticism."

Rivera knows Butler will have a role to play at the start of this season. How extensive that role will be is something that remains up in the air.

"As far as we're concerned, our number one (picks) play," Rivera said. "We don't bring them in to have them develop. They play. Now, how much he plays is going to be dependent on how quickly he can learn."


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