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Brice Butler ready to no longer be a ‘pinch-hitter’ with Cardinals

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE, Ariz. — There is a clear spot to fill in terms of the No. 2 wide receiver position for the Arizona Cardinals.

Cardinals wideout Brice Butler is not only hoping to fill that void, but show off his true receiving talent in the process.

“I’m going to prove it, that’s why I came here,” Butler said following Thursday’s OTAs. “I definitely didn’t come here to not be out on the field with Larry [Fitzgerald], but it’s not going to be given to me. I have to go out there and do what I can do to prove that I can do that day in and day out, down in and down out.”

While Cardinals receiver J.J. Nelson, who had the second-most yards behind only Fitzgerald in 2017, is still on the depth chart, gone from last year’s receiving core are both Jaron and John Brown. The two combined for 52 receptions, seven touchdowns and 776 yards.

Now, with a new-look receiving core that includes rookie receiver and Arizona native Christian Kirk, Cobi Hamilton, Butler, Chad Williams and Nelson, the yards are up for grabs.

Butler, the seventh round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2013, played college ball for the USC Trojans and later the San Diego State Aztecs.

He spent two seasons with the Raiders. He had a disappointing rookie season where he caught just nine balls for 109 yards and no scores. His next stop was the Dallas Cowboys where, in 2017, he had his most successful season, grabbing 15 receptions (24 targets) for a career-best 317 yards and three touchdowns.

In Week 3 of the 2017 season, the Cardinals witnessed some of Butler’s receiving skills as he hauled in two receptions for 90 yards and a 37-yard touchdown.

But Butler was looking for something more. He doesn’t want to be just the deep ball threat or “pinch-hitter,” as he called it, like he was during his time in Dallas.

“Nobody wants to play to be a backup,” Butler said, who found himself third on the Cowboys receiving depth chart behind Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams last season. “Some guys know that, ‘I’m not better than the guys in front of me’ and that’s what you would just have to except.

“I’ve always felt like the player who could have been on the field more especially when I was given opportunities I made my plays. We had a lot of players in Dallas, there wasn’t enough balls to go around.”

Now after signing a two-year deal with the Cardinals back in April, Butler is excited to be able to get more opportunities.

“I get to be a receiver, I get to do what I do,” Butler said when asked how he felt being in Arizona. “I get to be receiver, I get to run routes, I get to catch the ball, make plays.

“I’m not just going to be the pinch-hitter, that’s what I was Dallas, just the pinch-hitter, which was cool because I had to be responsible with what I got and I learned that and I bought into that and felt like I did a good job with so now this is level up.”