By Reggie Hayes, The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Darius Butler declined to take the bait, and the New England Patriots’ bulletin board remains empty.
Reporters searching for a provocative quote from Butler about playing for the Indianapolis Colts against the team that drafted and cut him were shut down by the cornerback.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“It’s a big opportunity for me.”
“It’s a big game. It means a lot.”
Those quotes practically evaporated into thin air seconds after Butler uttered them. He refuses to be drawn into criticism of the Patriots or coach Bill Belichick, both of whom essentially gave up on him as an NFL player after two seasons.
“That is the reality,” Butler said. “But as a professional, you have to do what you can to help the Colts win. It’s Colts-Patriots and that’s my job right now.”
Butler, a second-round pick by the Patriots out of Connecticut in 2009, will be in the starting lineup for the second straight game when the teams meet at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
He’s coming off his best day as a pro. His two interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and fumble recovery at Jacksonville earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Wednesday.
After signing with the Carolina Panthers in 2011 and playing in 13 games with six starts, Butler was released by the Panthers at the end of this year’s training camp. The Colts picked him up in late September.
His career chances appeared to be dwindling, his potential unfulfilled. While one great game against the Jaguars doesn’t guarantee any future success, he is intent on trying to remain with the Colts. Butler is starting Sunday because Jerraud Powers has been put on injured reserve with a toe injury.
“Personally, it’s huge,” Butler said of his chance with the Colts. “It’s probably my last opportunity. Guys only get so many opportunities and I want to make the best of it.”
An encore performance after his big Jacksonville game is a huge task. The Colts’ secondary, which also includes Cassius Vaughn in place of injured starter Vontae Davis, faces its toughest challenge of the year against the great Tom Brady in his own stadium.
Butler knows a thing or two about Brady, having spent two years in New England.
Knowledge won’t automatically translate to success, of course, but at least Butler has a sense of what’s coming Sunday.
“(Brady) is incredible,” Butler said. “You practice with him every day and you’re still shocked by some of the places he puts the ball. Only a handful of guys can do the things he does and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Butler became the first Colts player to record three takeaways in a game since Mike Prior in 1992. Butler jumped on the passes of Blaine Gabbert, which doesn’t necessarily translate to the same against Brady.
“I hope to run back five interceptions every week,” Butler said, jokingly. “It was definitely a huge opportunity to make some plays and hopefully I can build on that and keep doing it moving forward.”
If there are some harsh feelings toward the Patriots, Butler plans to keep them under wraps and let his play do the talking.
“Tom can put that ball wherever he wants it,” Butler said, “and that’ll be the biggest challenge for us as a defense.”