As far as rookie seasons go, Darius Butler’s was eventful. The cornerback was all over Bill Belichick’s depth chart, starting five games, seeing action in nine others, missing one to injury and another as a healthy scratch.
“I haven’t really had time to reflect on it yet, but obviously it was a lot for a first year,” Butler said Monday.
Nothing encapsulated Butler’s up-and-down season better than Week 6. Butler got the first start and interception of his career in a 59-0 rout of the Titans, but the day was overshadowed by the news that his friend and former UConn teammate, Jasper Howard, was stabbed to death.
Butler was able to put his grief aside and perform because he learned how to be a professional from teammates Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden.
“I definitely got a good group of guys around me, as far as agents and mentors, and veterans like Shawn and Leigh,” the second-round pick said. “I can feed off those guys.”
Butler ended the regular season on a high note, returning an interception 91 yards for a score against the Texans in Houston.
“I think Darius has learned a lot this year, like all the rookies,” Belichick said. “He’s got a real good future. I’m glad we have him. . . . He’s got a lot to learn, but he works hard at it and he’s a smart kid.”
Butler is eager to put his experience to good use.
“I definitely want to build on it,” Butler said. “This is my first offseason and I have to work hard and prepare well and build on it.”