We came out of the Raiders' first preseason game last Friday thinking the Raiders may have a late round gem on their hands in Brice Butler. The seventh round pick had two spectacular catches on the Raiders' lone touchdown drive that really shocked a lot of people who had no idea who this San Diego State wide receiver was when the Raiders drafted him.
After the game, Dennis Allen wanted to make sure his young rookie didn't get too high and complacent after his primetime performance.
"He's a big target. He's fast. He's able to get in and out breaks," said Allen. "Obviously he was able to do something after the catch today, so that was impressive. I think he's really had an impressive camp. The thing you've got to make sure, with all rookies, is we'll make sure we keep our thumb on him. Make sure he doesn't read too much of the good stuff you're going to write about him and keep him improving."
It can be difficult to ignore the positive mentions when you are a young NFL hopeful like Butler. As Butler put it after the game, he has let things like that negatively affect his play before, and it's what had him go from being named to the freshman All Pac-10 team at USC to a relative unknown receiver at SDSU.
"All I'm focusing on is doing what I have to do and doing my job every day," said Butler following his 2 catch, 70-yard performance to help the Raiders beat the Cowboys in their preseason opener. "I can't focus on what the coaches are thinking or what the other players are doing. I've done that in the past and it didn't really go well for me so I'm really just focusing on what Brice has to do and what I can do best for the team."
According to Butler, he doesn't really even think he did all that great.
"I honestly don't think I played that good," Butler told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Until those couple of plays on that one drive, I didn't feel good about my play at all. I definitely have to work on it. Watching tape, there was a lot of stuff I can work on."
Staying humble is important at this stage of the game. Those two plays offered a lot to be proud of. He showed great speed and elusiveness on the first catch, and great hands and concentration on the touchdown catch. So much so that is made was named the number two of ESPN's top ten plays. I also named him my top Baller for the game.
As good as it feels to see your highlight on ESPN and the sports world celebrating your potential, turning off that TV and closing the blog page is probably best. Resting on his laurels would make those plays look like a fluke and they would fade into ancient history.
Butler is saying all the right things. Come Friday he will be expected to do it again.