The Indianapolis Colts today signed cornerback Darius Butler and released guard Trai Essex.
Butler, 5-10, 185 pounds, has appeared in 42 career games (14 starts) and has registered 89 tackles (81 solo), 21 passes defensed, three interceptions and one forced fumble. He was originally selected by the New England Patriots in the second round (41st overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. With the Patriots, Butler played in a total of 29 games, making eight starts. He recorded 58 tackles (55 solo), 14 passes defensed, three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown and one fumble recovery. He was waived by the Patriots on September 7, 2011 and claimed by the Carolina Panthers a day later.
With the Panthers last year, Butler tallied 31 tackles (26 solo) and seven passes defensed in 13 games played (six starts). He was waived by the Panthers prior to the start of the regular season on August 31, 2012.
Butler played four years at the University of Connecticut, starting all 45 games he played in. For his college career, he totaled 180 tackles, 26 passes defensed, 10 interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, and three forced fumbles.
Essex appeared in two games with the Colts this season. Over his eight-year career, he has competed in 78 games, making 28 starts.
Tags: darius butler, roster move, Trai Essex
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During training camp, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was asked about the importance of developing depth along the offensive line.
“You’ve got to have seven guys and if you think you’re just going to play with five, that doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “That’s Godsend if that ever happens. We went to the Super Bowl with seven offensive tackles and four quarterbacks in Pittsburgh.”
“The next man standing, the next man in line, he jumps in and he plays. There’s no drop off. There’s never an excuse for an injury. If you’re a backup, you’re one of the most valuable players on the team.”
Just two weeks into the regular season, the Colts have experienced every part of what Arians said back in August.
-Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is the only penciled in starter who has been at his normal position for each of the first two games.
-At left guard, Seth Olsen has started both games for Joe Reitz (leg).
-At center, Samson Satele left the Vikings game late in the second quarter with a knee injury and was replaced by right guard Mike McGlynn.
-At right guard, when McGlynn slid over to center, newly signed lineman Trai Essex played the final two-plus quarters on Sunday.
-At right tackle, Jeff Linkenbach has been playing there since Winston Justice exited the Bears game with a concussion.
Through eight quarters of the regular season, the Colts have already used seven different players along the offensive line with Reitz still waiting to make his season debut.
Head coach Chuck Pagano talked about his beat up offensive line and their availability come Sunday.
“(Satele) saw the doctor, the MRI came back and it was negative so he’s just got some bone bruising in there but he’ll be day-to-day,” Pagano said. “We anticipate him being available for the game but you never know. If Satele isn’t able to go, then McGlynn will get the nod at center.”
During the 2010 season with the Eagles, McGlynn was the starting center for 14 games after starter Jamaal Jackson went down in the season opener.
“It’s a challenge just because we haven’t worked together and guys are just coming in,” McGlynn said of the ever-changing line. “It’s tough, but there’s not going to be any excuses come Sunday.”
Justice was a full participant at practice on Wednesday and his return to the line would give the Colts another veteran presence to protect Luck.
Tags: anthony castonzo, bruce arians, Jeff Linkenbach, joe reitz, mike mcglynn, Samson Satele, Seth Olsen, Trai Essex, winston justice
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Heading into the 2012 season, the Colts offensive line was full of question marks. How quickly would the new starters like Winston Justice and Samson Satele gel with Anthony Castonzo and the other returning Colts’ linemen? Could this unit that lacked depth stay healthy enough to keep prize quarterback Andrew Luck healthy?
Already two games into the season, we seem to have an answer to those questions. After struggling against the Chicago Bears in week one, the Colts faced down injury and showed their versatility and their resolve in the 23-20 win against the Minnesota Vikings.
The news wasn’t good to begin the game, with starting right tackle Winston Justice being declared inactive with the lingering effects of a concussion suffered last week. In his place, veteran Jeff Linkenbach stepped up into a starting role he previously held. If the best compliment to an offensive lineman is never hearing your name called, Linkenbach had a successful day. He and the rest of the Colts’ line held the Vikings, one of the NFL’s best units at rushing the passer, to two sacks, one of which was more a result of Andrew Luck holding the ball too long than the line’s inability to protect him.
Leading that effort was second year left tackle Anthony Castonzo. A week after facing the Bears’ Julius Peppers, Castonzo lined up across from the Vikings’ Jared Allen most of the afternoon. The Vikings defensive end already ranks 20th all-time on the NFL’s sack list. Thanks to Castonzo, Allen couldn’t add to that number on Sunday.
After the game, Castonzo was proud of the effort put forth by him and his linemates:
“It’s really awesome to start of the year that way, with two elite pass rushers…I feel like I held my own against both. It’s a great launching pad for the rest of the season.”
On the shift in personnel required by Justice’s injury and Samson Satele going out with a knee injury just before the half, Castonzo said he was confident in the abilities of those pressed into action.
“Next man up is our motto. Somebody gets hurt, the next guy has to come up and do the job.”
One who did two jobs on Sunday was Mike McGlynn. McGlynn started at guard, but when Satele went down, he moved over to center, a position he hadn’t played since a playoff game against Green Bay in 2010 when he was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. McGlynn felt good about his performance, but admitted it was a challenge for him to take over that role in the middle of a game after not getting many reps there during the week.
“It’s a big transition because you have to direct the line, which directs the whole offense. It’s something I’ve always been comfortable with (playing center)…I think I did some good things, but I’m sure I’ll see on film some things that need to get fixed.”
The extent of Satele’s injury is unknown at this time, so it’s unclear whether McGlynn will be back at center next week against Jacksonville. McGlynn’s move to center also brought in newcomer Trai Essex who filled in competently at guard.
Both Andrew Luck and Bruce Arians have to be encouraged by the progress and versatility shown by their offensive line in the Colts’ initial victory of 2012.
Tags: anthony castonzo, Jeff Linkenbach, mike mcglynn, Trai Essex, winston justice
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While Trai Essex has the familiarity of coaches within the organization, he admitted on Wednesday that he doesn’t know a lot of his new teammates.
Running back Mewelde Moore and center A.Q. Shipley are the only two Colts that have called Essex a teammate in the past.
Essex comes over to the Colts after seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and he spent the last four of those years playing with Moore. Shipley spent the 2011 season the Steelers practice squad.
The success that Essex and Moore shared together in Pittsburgh includes a pair of Super Bowl appearances in 2008 and 2010.
Both of those seasons the Steelers went 12-4 in the regular season while capturing Super Bowl XLIII.
What Essex doesn’t know yet about his Colts teammates, he does know a lot about the state he is once again calling home. He went to Fort Wayne Harding High School and won a state championship in basketball in 2002.
Essex started his final 37 games at Northwestern University before being chosen by the Steelers in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
There weren’t many ways to turn in the Colts locker room in trying to find someone who is familiar with Essex from a playing standpoint but Moore offered some strong words when talking about a man he has called a teammate for now the last five seasons.
“We are getting a guy who can play three positions,” Moore said of Essex “A guy who’s smart, physical, a strong individual and a great teammate. You’ll love to be around him and just everything he brings to the table is definitely going to help us win ball games.”
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Mewelde Moore, Trai Essex
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It’s an extra familiar homecoming for newly signed Colts offensive guard Trai Essex.
Not only will the 6-foot-5-inches 324 pounds Essex be back in the state he went to high school but he will also be reunited with his offensive coordinator and position coach.
Essex graduated from Fort Wayne Harding High School in 2001 and has spent all seven of his NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He will now be playing in the same offense Bruce Arians conducted with the Steelers (2007-2011) and under former offensive line coach Harold Goodwin (2007-2011).
In his seven seasons in the NFL, Essex has played in 76 career games with 28 starts while winning two Super Bowls with the Steelers.
He brings versatility to a Colts offensive line that is in need of some depth. Last year, Essex played all five positions along the Steelers offensive line.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said on Monday that offensive guard Joe Reitz will miss his second straight game due to a leg injury.
The status of right tackle Winston Justice is also up in the air after he left the Bears game with a concussion.
Pagano said the offensive line needs to be better up the middle in protecting its rookie signal caller.
“For the most part we’re on the right guys, and now it’s just a matter of firming things up a little bit,” Pagano said. “Being a little more stouter in there, and trying to give Andrew (Luck) that pocket, that comfort zone in there where he can see the field and step up and make the throws that he needs to make.”
The 324-poound Essex will certainly add some bulk to wherever he fits onto the line as his knowledge of Arians’ scheme should speed up the process for him this week.
It remains to be seen whether or not Essex finds himself in the lineup come Sunday but his eight years of NFL experience is the second most on the Colts offense.
Pagano stressed the importance of finding a consistent running game to help out an offense filled with young pieces.
“If we can run the ball like (the balance) you’re talking about and not get behind so to speak and keep that thing balanced it’s obviously going to help (Luck) too,” Pagano said.
Tags: bruce arians, chuck pagano, harold goodwin, joe reitz, Trai Essex, winston justice
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