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Colts 2016 player preview: Cornerback Darius Butler

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts will report to training camp on July 26 with their 90-man roster, which will be cut down to 53 players by the end of the preseason.  To pass the time until camp, we're taking a look at every player on the Colts' 90-man roster.  Today, we're looking at cornerback Darius Butler.

Who is he?

Darius Butler is one of the success stories for Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, as he has found a spot with the Colts and flourished in it.  Over the past four seasons, he has played in 55 games, starting 17 of them and making 181 tackles, 34 passes defensed, nine interceptions (three touchdowns), five forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.  Before his time with the Colts, he began his NFL career as a second round draft choice out of Connecticut by the New England Patriots.  He spent two seasons with the team, playing in 29 games and starting eight, though he was waived just before the start of the 2011 regular season.  The Carolina Panthers claimed him off of waivers the following day and Butler wound up playing in 13 games and starting six of them for Carolina.  The following season, however, the Panthers cut him as a part of final roster cutdowns.  The Colts signed him a few weeks later, and ever since then he's been a Colt.  Last year, with his contract up the Colts gave him a two-year, $5 million extension, the second two-year extension he has signed with the team.

What is his role?

For the past four years, Darius Butler has carved out a role as the nickel cornerback for the Colts.  He has had quite a bit of success in that role, but that doesn't guarantee him much entering the 2016 season.  He's 30 years old, is entering the final year of his contract, and had mixed success last year.  Furthermore, the Colts drafted D'Joun Smith a year ago and though the cornerback missed most of his rookie season due to injury he could be competing for playing time as the nickel corner.  In Butler's favor is the fact that Smith missed the entire offseason program and most of his rookie season with a knee injury, so he might still have some adjusting and learning to do.  It's very possible that Darius Butler could wind up as the Colts' nickel cornerback again in 2016, though the team hopefully has learned their lesson about playing him outside (something that should only be done out of absolute necessity, as Butler doesn't play well there).  He'll make the roster at cornerback, though his role as the number three isn't guaranteed at this point.

What are his chances?

Likely to make the roster and wind up as the nickel corner again, though D'Joun Smith is expected to push him for that role (if healthy).