Victor Butler, S.J. Green spark Argonauts resurgence

Argos defensive end Victor Butler and receiver S.J. Green have more in common than being named top performers of the week in the CFL. Both have become integral parts of the Argos season, making key contributions after off-seasons filled with uncertainty.

Butler was an NFL castoff who had been out of football for two seasons. Green was trying to recover from a devastating knee injury. Now Butler is the CFL sacks leader and Green is two yards behind Ottawa’s Greg Ellingson for the receiving lead.

“I had the confidence I could come back and be the player I think I can be,” Green said at a steamy Argos workout Tuesday. “It’s humbling to put up the numbers now (367 yards in three games), but I feel I can do it and that I want to keep doing it. But there’s 15 weeks to go and the post-season too, so lots of work yet.”

Green, who surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the fourth time during the 2015 season, suffered a devastating leg injury two weeks into the 2016 season — a complete tear of all three major ligaments in his right knee, as well as his meniscus.

That created uncertainty for the 32-year-old father of two — and for the Montreal Alouettes, who dealt the receiver to Toronto in April. But Green, a four-time East all-star, vowed to return in time for training camp and, three weeks into the season, is in fine form. Green hauled in 10 passes for 210 yards last week in Ottawa, matching his single-game high. It was his 19th career game, and second this season, with 100 or more yards receiving.

“I was surprised, more so because it was a personal best,” Green said. “It was in the back of my mind, I kind of had that goal as something I wanted to do.”

Butler had an eight-tackle, three-sack game in Ottawa, and has seven sacks in three games. He had been away from the game since being released by the New York Giants in April 2015.

“It was torture,” he said. “I mean, to do what you love to do and then have someone take it away. It was horrible.”

Butler was a fourth-round pick of Dallas in 2009 and spent four years with the Cowboys before bouncing through New Orleans, Arizona, Indianapolis and New York. He said he always knew he would get back into football, even if it meant “making up a team of guys from my neighborhood, and destroying them.”

The CFL is dramatically different than the football he had played, with three downs and the yard off the line of scrimmage. But Argos defensive line coach Kerry Locklin drilled him “for hours,” Butler said, and there were familiar faces here as well. Butler worked out with safety Owusu-Ansah Akwansi in the off-season and he was a teammate of lineman Dylan Wynn at the University of Oregon. Wynn said the coaches there always said to “do everything like Victor.”

Now, as the CFL sacks leader, Butler can be proud of the fact he is back working for his family and new daughter.

“You worry about what your legacy is going to be for your daughter, whether your wife is thinking you’re a bum,” Butler said. “But my wife kept me sane, and I worked out every single day to keep myself sane too.”

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