METAIRIE, La. - The news that Victor Butler reportedly tore an anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees is tough for the Saints.
As has been written in other places, he was going to be a key cog in New Orleans' revamped 3-4 defense, a player coordinator Rob Ryan could rely on because of his familiarity with the coach and system.
The Saints will certainly miss his know-how.
It's certainly a blow for a defense that is aiming to be light years better than the 2012 unit that gave up an NFL record 7,042 yards.
Even with Butler in the lineup, there was question as to who and how the Saints would get a pass rush. That won't change because of the injury.
But, and maybe this is too positive, while the Saints will lose veteran savvy, there are pieces that could fill in the role.
Martez Wilson is the type of player who could excel in Ryan's 3-4 at outside linebacker. Will Smith is busy learning the outside linebacker position and could be rejuvenated by the switch from defensive end.
There are rookies Rufus Johnson and Chase Thomas. And while it's a bit scary for coaches to go in with two unknowns as such, but have big upsides and if they can catch on quickly, could make up somewhat for the loss of a Butler.
There's no doubt that Butler was going to be a leader and a central player on the defense. Things, however, are never as dire as they seem in June.
Wait until at least the third week of preseason to go apoplectic.