“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That is the exact mindset Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Butler has exhibited during his first two seasons in the NFL and he appears to have done enough to make a strong case for being on the Raven’s active roster next year.
Butler was released prior to the season after a very good showing in OTAs and mini-camp. He didn’t produce as much during the preseason games and unfortunately, it led to his release before the final rosters were submitted.
The second year wide receiver faced a similar dilemma last season. He was one of a number of young receivers brought in to compete for a limited number of roster spots. Butler made it through most of the preseason and actually scored a touchdown in the last preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.
However, he injured his shoulder and was placed on injured reserve for the rest of the 2014 season. That didn’t stop him from being at the facility working to recover. As a rookie, he got the chance to witness how the veterans prepare for the upcoming season and how they maintain their bodies to make it the rest of the way.
The hard work that Butler put in made a good impression on head coach John Harbaugh.
“Jeremy Butler looks fine. I think he has picked up where he left off and gotten better, stronger, a little faster,” Harbaugh said. “He has made some plays. Again, for him, it’s going to be kind of a long-haul-type deal and [we will] see how he does.”
The Ravens signed Butler to their practice squad after he cleared waivers and he continued to push for a spot on the active roster. While on the practice squad, his job was to give the defense a good look, often times playing the role of the opposing team’s lead receiver.
Butler was finally brought up to the active roster on October 25, 2015 and made his NFL debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 15, 2015. Butler’s first NFL reception came late in the game. He made a key 21-yard catch during a Ravens fourth quarter scoring drive. It was fitting for Butler that his first NFL catch came at a crucial time in the game.
Each of the next six games saw Butler record at least three catches. His best game came against the Seattle Seahawks, a team with one of the best secondaries in the NFL. His seven receptions for 72 yards was a career high. Four of those seven receptions resulted in first downs for the Ravens.
Butler feels good about the way he has been involved in the game plan.
“This offense has given me the ability to show what I can do as far as being in the slot,” Butler said. “Being physical with smaller guys and being quicker with bigger guys.”
The Ravens have one more game in the 2015 season. It wasn’t a bright year for the franchise, but they did get to see some younger players including Butler step up and prove that they belong.
Butler came to the NFL as an undrafted free agent and survived multiple roster cuts before breaking onto the active roster.
He was not actived for the first two games of his career but that didn’t stop him from working hard and remaining focused on his goal of becoming a contributor on game day. Butler didn’t waver from his plan and has now become a significant part of the Ravens game plan.
He refused to get down on himself when he was struggling to make the roster and he won’t look too far ahead now that he is on the active roster.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time. I’ll control what I can control, and everything [else] will work itself out. My confidence will never be shaken,” Butler said. “I remain on an even keel. I’m always confident in my ability— believe in yourself, because if you don’t, nobody [else] will.”