Jue made his first NFL start at safety against the Detroit Lions Thursday in place of Butler, who will miss the rest of the season with a broken left shoulder blade. And Jue, a third-round draft pick, showed he belonged during Green Bay's 29-27 win.
The rookie from Penn State got the Packers on the winning track on Lions' first offensive play. He tracked down wide receiver Johnny Morton, who was in the midst of a long pass play, and punched the ball out his arm. The ball skittered along the sideline and Packers cornerback Tyrone Williams recovered it in the end zone for a touchback. The Packers promptly marched downfield and scored a touchdown to take a quick 7-0 lead.
"I don't know a lot of veterans that would have made that play," said Butler, who watched the game from the sideline with his arm in a sling. "I was very happy to see that. That was a great play."
Jue finished the game with seven tackles, second most on the team. But he was proudest of the fumble. "It was a hustle play all the way," said the 6-foot, 200-pound Jue. "We talk about going after the ball all the time. He was swinging it all around, and just went after it. We got it, scored, and that gave us momentum right away."
Jue started because not only is Butler out for the season, but so is second-string safety Antuan Edwards, who blew out his knee in the second game of the year. But the rookie earned high praise from his boss after the game.
"I thought he did fine," said Packers head coach Mike Sherman. "He had that big play on the fumble. I would give him a pretty good grade. I think he's going to be all right. He obviously doesn't have the experience of a LeRoy Butler, but I think he'll do fine."
Butler spent most of the game talking to Jue and the rest of the secondary. "I think it was important for all of us," said fellow safety Darren Sharper. "He was able to vocalize a lot of what was happening on the field. It was like having another coach on the sideline."