No excuses for Broncos TE Jake Butt in comeback

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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Just when Jake Butt appeared to be carving out a spot for himself in the Broncos' starting 11, an ACL injury ended his 2018 season.

Now, the soon-to-be 24-year-old tight end will be battling not only to come back healthy but for playing time in the Denver offense.

"I'm used to being a guy that the team can rely on, used to being at the top of the depth chart," Butt said via the Denver Post. "For me, I'm probably going to be starting off at the bottom and work my way up. It's a whole different deal for me, but it's nothing I'm going to shy away from. I'm excited about the competition. I know what I can do as a football player."

In Butt's absence, Jeff Heuerman took on the starting tight end role and the Broncos nabbed Iowa product Noah Fant with the 20th selection of the 2019 NFL Draft.

So the latest setback in a string of ACL injuries for Butt isn't the only obstacle to overcome as he struggles for snaps and looks to climb back up the depth chart.

At the onset of the Broncos' 2018 campaign, Butt was the starter, claiming that role in each of the first three games. His stats certainly weren't eye-popping at eight catches for 85 yards, but he was becoming a presence, he was making some key grabs for first downs.

That all ended at practice on Sept. 27 when a non-contact left ACL injury brought his season to a close. Unfortunately for Butt, it wasn't a first, as he suffered ACL injuries in high school and college, the latter forcing him to miss all of a 2017 rookie season with the Broncos.

While many in his situation would likely lean on being snake-bitten, Butt's initial comeback steps seem to be carried by optimism as the July 18 start of training camp looms ever sooner.

"I haven't had any setbacks, so that's been great -- it's been a steady climb," Butt said. "It's obviously a long process, but I feel really close. At this point, it's (about) getting back into football shape and to where I feel good every day."

Beyond that, Butt is offering no excuses as he moves forward, insisting it's full speed ahead.

"I'm basically doing everything I was before the injury," he said. "I know my job on every single play.

"There shouldn't be (a) slow start in camp. There's no excuse."

Butt's uphill battle will continue as he aims to find his footing along with his reps in the hopes of pulling off a memorable comeback.

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