When Vernon Butler went down during the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans matchup, the scene was grim, to say the least. After absorbing a cheap shot from a Texans offensive lineman, Butler laid in pain for several minutes. When the trainers began working on his left knee, Panthers fans held their breath.

The good news is that early indications seem to say the Panthers may have dodged a bullet here.

If there are no torn ligaments, we are looking at a sprain. However, as this is the preseason there are no injury reports. The Carolina Panthers are not obliged to tell us much on the timeline for Butler’s return. But, we can look to the past and give a pretty good estimation.

Offensive tackle Daryl Williams suffered a similar injury during the opening game of the 2017 season. Williams missed a total of five games before he was healthy enough to return to action. The larger the player, the longer it takes for the training staff to build confidence in recovering knees. Williams and Butler are similarly sized players.

Taking that into consideration, it is likely that we can expect Vernon Butler to miss in the vicinity of five or six weeks, give or take. Expecting him back for the season opener is likely a bit too optimistic. However, expecting him back sometime in September is probably a good bet.

Looking at the schedule, I am eyeballing September 24 against the New Orleans Saints. I suspect the Panthers will not want to rush Butler’s return to play San Francisco or Buffalo and risk further injury. But week three against the Saints? That may be when we see Butler next.