The Panthers 2016 first round pick hasn't had the easiest transitions to the NFL. Vernon Butler had a tough position group to crack coming into the league, and injury hasn't made it easy either. In his rookie season, Butler suffered a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for several weeks. It was an injury that lingered and had to have hindered his development. Butler came out gangbusters during his second training camp, only to suffer a knee sprain in the first preseason game.
Butler has been a full participant in practice all week. Coach Ron Rivera was confident in his status, reporting that the trainers "have completely cut him loose to us... and unless he has a setback tomorrow, he should be ready for Sunday."
Carolina's defensive line was dominant against the 49ers, surrendering only 51 yards on the ground. Kawann Short and Star Loutouleli had great games in the middle, but there were times that the rushing defense looked a little porous early in the game. A lot of these runs were either to the outside or when Star had to cycle out of the game. Butler's return will only give this defensive line more depth and add to the relentless pass-rush. Butler is thought to be more of a 3-technique, get after the quarterback defensive tackle. Carolina, however, worked him at the 1-technique in camp at times, signaling that they want to cycle him in for either Short or Star if the need arises.
We're all excited to see what this 1st round pick can do. Butler was frustrated he couldn't show it his rookie season, and I'm guessing he's champing at the bit to show it off this season.
By Tony Dunn
Follow @Cat_Chronicles for the latest Panthers news and opinions from the fan perspective.