Undrafted rookie savors Packers' late call

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Louisiana-Lafayette wide receiver James Butler (11) during the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Dec. 20, 2014.

James Butler didn’t know whether the call would ever come.

The former Louisiana-Lafayette receiver wasn’t offered an invitation to a rookie camp after the 2015 NFL draft. Still, he vowed to stay ready in case his phone ever rang.

This week, it finally did. In the wake of Jordy Nelson’s torn ACL, the Green Bay Packers brought in Butler for a workout on Wednesday and signed him to their 90-man roster on Thursday. He will wear No. 13 for the Packers.

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Butler caught 87 passes for 1,130 yards and four touchdowns in 51 college games. He ran a 4.54-second time in the 40-yard dash at his March pro day with a 36½-inch vertical jump, 22 bench reps of 225 pounds and a 10-foot-4 broad jump, according to

Although he didn’t receive a rookie camp invite, Butler worked out for Cincinnati last month.

“It taught me there’s always a tomorrow,” Butler said. “No other words to describe it, it’s a blessing. I know there’s a week left of camp, so I just have to show what I have in that short period of time.”

The Packers don’t have any public practices before Saturday night’s game against Philadelphia and won't hold another until Tuesday, which brings the league’s mandatory cutdown to 75 players.

The Packers have eight healthy receivers with Nelson, Javess Blue (shoulder) and Jared Abbrederis (concussion) all sidelined. So Butler could have a chance to play against the Eagles.

A native of New Orleans, Butler had been training in Lafayette. He’s a former teammate of two current Packers, defensive end Christian Ringo and running back Alonzo Harris. He said he hadn’t seen Harris yet – he’s dealing with a hand injury – but crossed paths with Ringo “100 times” on Thursday.

Butler knows time is not on his side, but he’s grateful for the opportunity to show what he can do.

“It’s a blessing having to wait so long because I had a unique story,” Butler said. “Just not having anything. Not being drafted. Not being invited to a minicamp and just get invited the last week of camp.

“A lot of guys I know got invited to minicamp are still looking for jobs right now. The fact I didn’t get invited to anything, but I’m here right now, is a testament to how great God is.”

— and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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