Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Butler started reading for pleasure this offseason. It's helped take his mind off worrying about whether he's going to make the team.
His latest book is called "When The Game Is Over, It All Goes Back In The Box" by John Orthberg. It's about focusing life on what matter most* *– love for each other and their faith – instead of temporary prizes.
For Butler, being among the* *53 men to begin the year would be a heck of an accomplishment and a long time coming after he missed it his first two years.
Entering Thursday night's game in New Orleans, Butler is one of the biggest names and contributors on the Ravens' proverbial bubble – though you could hardly tell when talking to him.
"I don't really think about it too much," Butler said. "I just want to go out and have fun and play football. I get to play another game."
If Butler is going to make the team, he may need to convince coaches* *that they must make room for seven wide receivers, which is one more than the team typically keeps.
Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman are all locks. Michael Campanaro and fourth-round rookie Chris Moore also seem like likely choices, especially given that Campanaro is the leading punt returner and Moore has flashed his potential.
So is Butler good enough to legitimize taking away from somewhere else?
The Ravens signed Butler* *as an undrafted rookie out of small-school Tennessee-Martin in 2014. He spent his first year on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury, then didn't make the team out of training camp last season.
Butler was elevated from the practice squad about midway through last year and put up solid stats with 31 catches for 363 yards. He's leading the Ravens in receiving this preseason with 13 grabs for 114 yards and two touchdowns. When there's been a play to be made, he's made it.
"That's my job as a receiver," he said. "They put the ball there and our job is to catch it. I definitely take a lot of pride in making a play when it comes my way."
The 6-foot-2, 213-pounder's game somewhat models Aiken's. Butler has shown consistency, has good size and is a reliable chain mover. Aiken and Butler both grew up playing in Florida and both were passed over in the NFL draft.
Aiken has gone from an undrafted journeyman to the Ravens' leading wide receiver last season and a key offensive weapon entering this year.
The two talk a lot on the field and hang out outside of the Under Armour Performance Center. They talk about life, football, everything, Butler said. Aiken has dispensed advice about the ups and downs of life in the NFL and how to stay patient.
Aiken's best tip?
"It's cliché, but control what you can control," Butler said. "When you think about it, all you can control is your own opinion of yourself, your work ethic, your attitude and how you approach everything.
"I'm just enjoying the moments of life* *in general. At the end of the day, we still have a life to live."