The San Diego Chargers 3-1 needed some good news this week as they prepare to take on the 0-4 New Orleans Saints in New Orleans at the Superdome. Donald Butler has been named the AFC defensive player of the week.
Butler was an important part of the Chargers fight to recover after a miserable lose to the Atlanta Falcons at home would end up recording six tackles, 0.5 sack, one pass defensed and an interception-return touchdown in the Chargers’ 37-20 win at Kansas City.
Late in the second quarter, Butler intercepted a pass intended for Chiefs tight end TONY MOEAKI and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown as the Chargers took a 27-6 lead.
Butler is more then just a player and is a staple on the Chargers defensive front and played a pivotal role in a defense that registered six takeaways, leading to 20 points for the team. The six takeaways are the most in a game for San Diego since September 19, 2010 against Jacksonville. Through Week 4, Butler ranks second on the team with 30 tackles.
“It felt good. Definitely need to give credit to the other guys out there on the field, helping me. It really allowed me to make those plays .I don’t think I get anything (for the award), just a pat on the back and I’ll take it. I think it will just be a mental note. I try and get better each week and hopefully I’ll get it again.” Butler said after the announcement was made that he was named defensive player of the week. He also added “Honestly I think it goes to the guys in front. When you have guys getting off to the ball it makes your job as a linebacker that much easier. It helps us get up the field and make big plays.”
Chargers head coach Norv Turner opened his media conference talking about Butlers AFC defensive player award by saying “I know you just talked to Donald Butler. It’s crazy, AFC Defensive Player of the week and you think back and we’re out here in his rookie year in training camp, and he tears his Achilles then spends a year waiting to get the opportunity to play. And he certainly had an outstanding second year, which was basically his rookie year. You see a guy grow and get better each step along the way. A lot of our guys have had to overcome season-ending injuries. I think it says a lot about the type of person he is and the type of time and work he’s put in to come back from a very severe injury. If you tear you Achilles it can obviously be career-threatening, so he’s done a great job of overcoming that.”
Coach Turner, was also asked about Butler being smart and taking chances while playing with the Chargers.
“He does have a great feel for playing the game. He has grown. I think Takeo Spikes has done a great job helping Donald, along with the coaches.”
But like any player, he wanted to improve as a player and he has been able to improve in some areas. “I think my overall knowledge of the game. Last year I wasn’t on third down and this year I’m starting on third down in our dime package. With that comes more responsibility and I think that’s helped me handle it.”
In his third season with the Chargers after playing for the Washington Redskins, this is Butler’s first career Defensive Player of the Week Award. Other players around the NFL that got spotlighted was Quarterback TOM BRADY of the New England Patriots and kicker MATT PRATER of the Denver Broncos are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for games played the fourth week of the 2012 season