A quick learner
In just 2 weeks, WR Butler has absorbed much of the playbook
DAVIE — Coach Adam Gase might want to have Brice Butler give a tutorial on how to learn the Miami Dolphins offense at an accelerated pace.
Butler, a six-year veteran whom the Dolphins signed during their bye week in November, only needed two weeks of practice to know the Dolphins’ playbook well enough to start last Sunday’s 21-17 win over the Buffalo Bills and contribute four receptions for 25 yards.
One of Gase’s main frustrations over the years has been how long it takes Miami’s playmakers to grasp his playbook, and Butler downloaded the majority of the offense in two weeks by drawing up index cards, then studying them and quizzing himself.
“I’ve never had
ahard time learning offenses, football plays,” said Butler, who has split his time in the NFL between the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys the past six seasons.
“My whole career I’ve pretty much been a guy who has picked stuff up quick. I’m just a quick, visual learner. I see it a couple of times, download it in my brain registry and I got it.”
That’s what helped Butler take over Kenny Stills’ spot as Miami’s starting flanker while Stills manned the slot position last week because of the knee injury that has sidelined Danny Amendola since the Indianapolis Colts game.
Injuries have significantly depleted Miami’s receiver unit this season.
Albert Wilson (hip) and Jakeem Grant (leg) are already on injured reserve, and DeVante Parker (shoulder) and Amendola are trying to play through their injuries. That means players such as Butler are being called on to fill the void, and Gase likes the size and speed Butler brings to his offense.
What has impressed Gase the most is the fact Butler, who has caught 77 passes for 1,022 yards and scored eight touchdowns during his career as a journeyman, has begun to develop chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
“They do a great job working together,” Gase said. “[Butler] knows what to do, which is great. [We] just keep trying to get him to the point where he can play fast.
“He fits in with those other guys. The chemistry with that group has come together pretty quick, which is good to see because I think that’s rare to get a guy in that fast.”
Two starters return to practice: Amendola, the Dolphins’ starting slot receiver, participated in his first practice since injuring his right knee in Miami’s loss to the Colts.
Amendola, who leads the Dolphins (6-6) with 48 receptions that he has turned into 469 yards and one touchdown, practiced on a limited basis with the hope that he’ll eventually be cleared to play this Sunday against his former team, the New England Patriots (9-3).
Center Travis Swanson, who missed the game against the Bills because of a sprained ankle he suffered against the Colts, also participated in practice. The Dolphins are hoping he’ll be healthy enough to return to the starting lineup, which would allow Jake Brendel to play left guard instead of Ted Larsen, who has been playing through a neck injury for the past month.
Brendel had his practice participation limited because of a knee injury he suffered against the Bills.
Also limited during Wednesday’s practice were cornerback Cornell Armstrong (knee), tailback Kenyan Drake (shoulder), and Parker (shoulder).
Starting defensive end Cameron Wake was given a rest day, which is normal for players in their 30s under Gase. For example, 14-year veteran Frank Gore, the Dolphins’ starting tailback, sits out every Thursday practice.
Veteran receiver Brice Butler has learned a great deal of the Dolphins offense in just two weeks with the team.