James Butler shocked the Giants world when he held off Demps, who had a heck of a preseason opener against Carolina. But Butler proved to be more dependable over the long run and, as a result, was lined up with the starting defense when New York opened its season in Dallas on Sept. 9.
The third-year Georgia Tech product made the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2005, when he made his mark with 21 special teams tackles. He made one start and picked off two passes as a rookie.
Last season, he played in 14 games and posted 11 tackles and 12 special teams stops. This summer, however, is when Butler really showed his skills. And despite a rough opening night in Dallas, both Butler and the Giants expect big things from him in 2007.
Here follows TGI's bang-bang interview with Butler, who only had a few minutes to spare. Hey, you wouldn't want to be late to one of Tom Coughlin's meetings either.
TGI's 10 questions with James Butler
TGI: What are your thoughts on winning the starting safety job?
JB: It was just one of those things where you just try to go out there and do your best. On every play, you have to do what you're supposed to do. It was one of those things where everything happened good for me.
TGI: Did you surprise yourself at all?
JB: I wouldn't call it a surprise because every year I try to set high goals for myself and try to work hard. By doing all that, hopefully something like this will happen for me.
TGI: What do you think it is that the Giants like about you?
JB: I just try not to be a trouble-maker. I just try to be quiet and do what I'm supposed to do. That's definitely what they look for – someone to be the ultimate professional.
TGI: Could you ever have imagined that not only would you win the job but that they'd release last year's starter, Will Demps?
JB: I'm really not a guy to sit around and talk about me. But for the most part, I just tried to go out every play and do what I'm coached to do. Hopefully the best will happen for you.
TGI: When did it sink in that the starting job was yours?
JB: When did I realize? This whole preseason and training camp was an open competition. I really didn't realize that it was my position until, truthfully, until the preseason was over.
TGI: What did starting on opening night mean to you?
JB: It meant a lot. I came from a long way to where I am now. But at the same time I was exuberant at the opportunity that I had.
TGI: How do you feel you did in Dallas?
JB: Well, I definitely didn't play as well as I would have liked, but hopefully this week will be a better week for me.
TGI: How much can you improve?
JB: I just need to focus on the little things and focus every play and I feel like I'll play a whole lot better.
TGI: What are your goals for the season?
JB: I don't really want to talk about my goals. I just want for the team, the defensive unit, and the Giants to be the best we can be and contend for the Super Bowl.
TGI: What are Giants fans going to see out of number 37 this season?
JB: I'm going to give my best every play, give maximum effort and pride myself every week on being the best player I can be.
He Did It
The Giants Beat Top Stories
McAdoo; Beckham needs to control his emotionsNew York's head coach Ben McAdoo acknowledged on a conference call that his star player was out of control for his tantrum on the sidelines.
The Giants BeatYesterday at 7:33 AM
Insider Debate: Josh Norman vs Odell BeckhamThe Giants Beat's lead writer and Breaking Burgundy's expert debate the age-old question of who will get the upper-hand between Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman.
The Giants BeatSaturday at 8:36 AM
Start em', Sit em': Giants vs. RedskinsTake a look at who our fantasy expert says you should start and who you should sit in this week's NFC East clash.
The Giants BeatFriday at 8:24 AM
Fantasy Football: What We Learned From Week 3Mark Morales-Smith looks at some of the biggest implications from Week 3 of the Fantasy Football season, including New York Giants RB Shane Vereen's season-ending injury.
Scout FantasyYesterday at 10:19 AM
Scouting the Enemy: Josh NormanThe Giants Beat scouts Washington's top cornerback and how Big Blue can attack the pro bowler.
The Giants BeatMonday at 8:59 AM