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Coaches lack confidence in Ware's backup

12/14/2009

IRVING, Texas -- Wade Phillips didn't exactly exude confidence when discussing DeMarcus Ware's backup.

Rookie Victor Butler replaced Ware after the All-Pro injured his neck early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the San Diego Chargers. Phillips was lukewarm in his praise of the fourth-round pick's performance in Butler's most extensive playing time.

"We think he's a good prospect," Phillips said, "but we don't think he's there yet."

It was Butler's most extensive playing time this season. The Cowboys hoped Butler or fellow fourth-round pick Brandon Williams would serve as a situational pass rusher this season, but that hasn't happened.

Williams was put on injured reserve after tearing a knee ligament in a preseason game. Phillips said Monday that Williams was ahead of Butler before the injury.

The 6-2, 246-pound Butler has three sacks in limited playing time, all of which have come late in games. Phillips said the rookie, who played defensive end at Oregon State, is still learning the Cowboys' scheme and adjusting to playing outside linebacker.

"He's not a real big guy," Phillips said, "so that's part of it, too."

Curtis Johnson and Steve Octavien, one of whom has been inactive every game, are the other options at outside linebacker if, as anticipated, Ware can't play against the Saints.