Saints lose starting linebacker Butler to torn ACL

The are the latest Super Bowl contender for the 2013 season to lose an expected starter to a potentially season-ending in organized teams activities before teams break for more than a month before training camp.

Saints outside linebacker Victor Butler tore his ACL during Tuesday’s practice. After showing significant potential as a pass-rusher in a part-time role with the Cowboys over the last four seasons, Butler landed a two-year, $3 million contract with the Saints and was expected to start at the “Jack” linebacker spot in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. . That’s essentially the glamour position in a 3-4 defense, the position that gets the most opportunities to record big sack totals.

The injury happened during a collision with Mark Ingram during what was supposed to be a non-contact practice.

“The game that we play is physical, and sometimes those things happen,” cornerback Jabari Greer said. “There’s no intention of malice or any intention to go out there and hurt anybody, but in a practice or a game, it happens. So if it does, we just pray and lift our guys up and make sure we’re being as technique-sound as possible. That’s really the only way to do it.”

Butler will likely end up on injured reserve and Butler will have surgery once the swelling in his injured knee has subsided. This was the last week of OTAs for the Saints, and Wednesday’s practice session was canceled so the players could take a field trip.

Butler had 11 sacks in four years with the Cowboys, when he started just three games and seemed like a great fit for Ryan’s new defense in New Orleans. He was possibly the most critical signing of the offseason for New Orleans. Now he’s likely to spend the entire year watching from the sidelines as the Saints try to manufacture a pass rush with the out-of-place Will Smith, a Junior Galette/Martez Wilson combo, hopeful rookies Chase Thomas/Rufus Johnson or maybe even an outsider like John Abraham.

Several teams courted Butler during free agency as he took visits to New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Philadelphia. His ties to Ryan helped play a major role in the Saints’ ability to sign Butler as Butler played under Ryan the past two seasons in Dallas.

The Saints, who opened +1500 on to win the Super Bowl, open the season Sept. 8 in Atlanta, which is slightly favored over New Orleans to win the NFC South for the second year in a row.


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