Notebook: Darius Butler Does it Again and Griff Whalen is "Next Man Up"

Intro: The Colts/Texans Notebook looks at a pair of the “Next Man Up” contributors on Sunday. Darius Butler and Griff Whalen were significant in the Colts earning a 25-3 victory over the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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INDIANAPOLIS—Butler Does It Again— The constant ball hawk in the Colts secondary was soaring again on Sunday afternoon.

Darius Butler hauled in a pair of interceptions against the Texans giving him eight picks since joining the Colts in late September last season.

The first interception for Butler came early in the second quarter when he stepped in front of Pro Bowler Andre Johnson for the turnover.

"Andre (Johnson) ran a little in and out route, a little pivot route. I was all over him," Butler said of the pick. "I didn't think Case (Keenum) would throw it, but he threw it I guess to give him a chance, and I was able to jump in front of it and make a play."

 

Later in the quarter, Butler once again got in front of Johnson for his fourth interception in 2013.

Both of Butler's interceptions led to Colts field goals and his performance carried throughout a strong afternoon for the Colts secondary.

 

With the Colts missing six starters on Sunday, Butler's performance was one of several under the "Next Man Up" category.

Sunday's defensive effort by the Colts was perhaps the strongest of the season considering the Texans had scored at least 20 points in every game but once since the end of October.

Houston quarterback Case Keenum was sacked four times on Sunday and the 239 yards given up by the Colts defense was the fewest the unit has allowed since Sept. 29.

The Colts held Johnson to just four catches for 18 yards (in 10 targets) with Vontae Davis and Butler shadowing the All-Pro on Sunday.

The 18 receiving yards for Johnson was the second fewest he has since the 2006 season.

"They were bound and determined to make amends for what Andre did to us in the first ballgame down there, specifically in the first half, three touchdowns and almost 200 yards," Chuck Pagano said after the game.

"I'm really proud of the guys in the back end. They stepped up. D-Buts getting two interceptions was huge."From Practice Squad to Endzone— On Saturday morning, Griff Whalen was a member of the Colts practice squad.

Just over 24 hours later, Whalen was scoring his first NFL touchdown.

With LaVon Brazill a late scratch for Sunday, Whalen was elevated to the active roster just before 9:00 a.m. on Saturday.

"I really didn't know anything. Nobody said anything to me, so it was kind of weird," Whalen said of the elevation.

"That's something we talk about a lot, having everybody prepared as a starter. You never know who is going to go down or what kind of moves are going to be made, so I was trying to prepare like that all week."

Whalen certainly played like a starter with four catches for 45 yards, including a 14-yard opening drive touchdown in the 25-3 Colts win.

 

He also returned punts for the first time in his career and his third quarter return of 51 yards was the longest the Colts have had in 2013.

Over the course of the season Whalen has bounced back and forth between the active roster and practice squad.

"It's hard sometimes. You always want to be on the field," Whalen, an undrafted free agent in 2012 says. "You always want to be contributing. It's kind of a tough thing mentally just to keep yourself in it and trying to stay focused."

Whalen's contributions were vital early on in the game with his score being the lone opening half touchdown the team has had since beating Denver on Oct. 20.

In total, Whalen played 47 snaps (32 offensive) Sunday in filling in for Brazill.

"It's a testament to his work ethic and the character that he has. I talked about it to the team in there because Griff's been active, been cut, been put back on the practice squad two and three times," Pagano said of Whalen.

"When you look at the roster, we know the roster is fluid and things like that happen and you have a choice to make when that happens to you. And certainly Griff's not one of those guys that would go in the tank, so to speak. He's a grinder. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He's got something to prove."

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