METAIRIE, La. Outside linebacker Victor Butler's season officially ended this week when the Saints decided not to activate him off of the physically unable to perform list.
Butler tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during one of the team's organized team activities in June.
'His rehab has gone extremely well. To his credit, he has worked very hard at it,' Saints Coach Sean Payton said. 'Obviously with an ACL injury there's a lot that goes into that. We had that window where he could come out. You try to pay attention to that and overall, we just felt like it was best right now if we went that direction. Part of that is just having that confidence in making sure it's not too soon.'
Butler began practicing the week of the second Atlanta game and had a three-week window before the team had to make a decision on whether to activate him or not.
Ultimately the six-month rehabilitation period wasn't enough.
'I worked my tail off in rehab but if you look at it, six months that's a quick recovery time for an injury like this and I'm just glad that you have an organization that's smart and cares about the player and not just productivity and trying to push a guy out there whether he's out or not,' Butler said.
The time table was ambitious, but Butler never fully believed he wouldn't be able to come back.
'For me, I thought it was realistic,' Butler said. 'Even now I feel great. If it was a game of flag football I could dominate right now. It's just putting on the pads and going out there and taking on guys like big Jahri Evans and guys like that who are trying to destroy you out there, you want a little more strength and stability in it and that's just where the decision came from.'
Butler, who played under first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in Dallas, was expected to play a big role in the use of the 3-4 defense this season.
Ultimately, he's one of eight players on the Saints roster whose season was cut short early.