ANDERSON — Late in Monday’s afternoon practice, Andrew Luck had the Indianapolis Colts driving into the red zone.
Luck had finished the previous drive with back-to-back incompletions in the red zone, and he was looking to make amends here. He looked toward the flat and fired a pass into the seam.
A blue jersey broke late on the ball and flashed in front of the receiver at nearly the last instant. Darius Butler never broke stride, pulling in his second interception of Luck in as many days before the turning the corner and racing down the sideline.
His defensive teammates let out a loud cheer on the other side of the field, and Butler basked for a brief moment in the spotlight.
“You want to celebrate,” the fifth-year cornerback said. “It’s tough to make plays in this league, especially going against guys like (Matt) Hasslebeck and Luck and Reggie Wayne and guys like that. So any time you make a play, you feel good about it.”
Butler made his fair share of plays last season, finding a home in Indianapolis after two seasons in New England and one with Carolina. He appeared in 11 games, making four starts, and picked off four passes - returning two for scores.
During a Nov. 8 win at Jacksonville, Butler became the first Colts defender in nearly 20 years to record three takeaways in a single game. He intercepted a pair of passes and recovered a fumble en route to AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Butler has continued that upward momentum through the early days of training camp at Anderson University. Working with the first unit in nickel packages, he has been one of the defensive standouts.
Indianapolis finished with 12 more turnovers than takeaways in 2012, and improving that ratio is one of the team’s primary goals this season.