TEMPE, Ariz. — Drew Butler was called on to punt five times in Arizona’s 23-21 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday night.
Of his five kicks, just two landed inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line, and his boots had an average distance of 36 yards.
In a game filled with spotty special teams play, Butler’s performance was if not the most detrimental, still very noticeable.
Yet on Monday, when asked about Butler’s status on the roster, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians offered a healthy dose of praise.
“He kicked his ass off on one leg. He had a severely sprained ankle,” Arians said. “Some guys would have not been able to go out there. He sucked it up for his team and went out there. He sprained his ankle severely on that first punt.”
During the game it was apparent that Butler had suffered some kind of injury on his first kick — a 38-yarder that was caught at the New England 18 and returned to the 26. He received attention on the sideline after the play, but no official injury was announced and he continued with his normal role. Had Butler been unable to continue, kicker Chandler Catanzaro would have handled punts.
Butler said the injury happened when teammate Troy Niklas got tripped up and rolled into his plant foot.
“It hurt pretty bad; I thought it was bad initially, but just gutted it out and was able to finish up the game,” Butler said. “Wish I could have put a better product out there.”
While there was no indication Butler was blaming the injury for his performance, he noted the importance of his plant foot and the impact a badly sprained ankle could have.
Whereas some injuries are more about pain tolerance, what Butler was — and still is — dealing with has more to it.
“Yesterday, when you plant it would just kind of give,” he said. “You couldn’t really get into it, into the plant foot and out. But the pain, next week, should be fine. We should be good to go.”
Butler’s optimism for Week 2 stems from feeling better Monday than he did Sunday night, and he added there was some luck involved because assistant athletic trainer Michael Blankenship, who always helps Butler tape up his left ankle prior to games, put a little extra into Sunday’s job.
“There’s no question if I didn’t have the tape on there, I don’t know if I could be playing this week,” he said. “But I am and I’m excited to get out there and get back to work.”