Darius Butler’s move to safety has been a pretty fast and interesting transition.
We first saw him playing there during training camp and slowly but surely we began to realize that it was something the Colts were considering doing in a game. About midway through the regular season we really saw the Colts employ it, and it caught on as he started playing more and more there. Then this offseason, Butler said he was ready for the switch full-time, and the Colts re-signed him to be a safety. After the free agency craze died down, defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said that Butler would play primarily safety for the Colts.
But then Malik Hooker fell to Indy in the first round of the draft, and it became much more up in the air regarding how the Colts would use Butler. He’s been a good nickel corner for the last several years, but he also was a capable safety last year. So what role will he wind up playing?
The short answer is that we don’t know yet. But the longer answer is that Butler still considers himself a safety until the Colts tell him differently.
“I’m a safety until I’m told otherwise,” Butler said yesterday. “I’ve been a nickel, and I’ve been told I’m a safety. I’ve been a corner, and I’ve been told I’m a nickel. Like I said, I come to work. I do what I can do as far as preparing mentally and physically with my body and then wherever the chips may fall.”
That transition from corner to safety might prove difficult for some, but Butler is finding it relatively easy.
“Not [guys] that made this transition, but I talked to safeties that I know around the league,” Butler said, regarding who he talked to as he made the transition. “Just tried to watch more film on guys. I played with a guy, [Devin] McCourty, early in his career who moved from corner to safety. So just kind of watched guys with similar body types, similar movements and try to learn as much as I can from them. But it was kind of natural. Knowing the nickel position, you have to kind of know where everybody is, so it was kind of an easy transition as far as the mental part of it.”
It will be interesting to see how much the Colts keep Butler at safety and how much they use him at nickel, since they now have flexibility in the secondary. Hooker, though injured now, should be a starter at safety week one, and Clayton Geathers would figure to be the other starting safety - whenever he’s back. His injury situation could be key for Butler, though, because it means that Butler would probably start in his place. And, of course, T.J. Green will probably find himself in the mix somewhat and see reps too. If/when Geathers is healthy, though, I think we maybe could see Butler spend a bit more time at nickel too, which is an area that the Colts could use help at too.
For the time being, though? Butler’s a safety. And that’s where he’s spending his time this offseason working as he makes the transition full-time.