ENGLEWOOD, Colorado — Almost any other fifth-round draft pick who has spent more time injured than practicing for going on three years never gets a chance at that third year.
It says something about what the Broncos think of Jake Butt that they have showed so much patience with the otherwise talented tight end from Michigan.
“I still have to go out there and prove it,’’ Butt said Monday in an interview with 9News. “I can’t just sit in the trainer’s room all day. I’m not naïve. I know how the business works, but it does mean a lot that the coaches still believe in me. They’re keeping my spirits up, keeping my head in it and pushing me to keep fighting because mentally it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.
“I would literally do anything to get back out there but I think my saving grace is I had a good spring and the time I did have with the team last year, they saw what I can do when I’m healthy.’’
Butt is attempting to return from his third ACL tear in five years. His first, to his right knee, occurred in February 2014 while running a routine corner route during winter conditioning prior to his sophomore season at Michigan. He was back practicing by August and he played in nine games his sophomore season.
His second ACL, also to his right knee, occurred during his senior bowl game of 2016. The Broncos took him in the fifth round that spring knowing his ACL recovery would him most of his rookie season in 2017. As it turned out, he missed all of it.
His third ACL injury, this one to his left knee, occurred during a practice between the Broncos’ third and fourth games last year. Butt had eight catches for 85 yards in the first three games of 2018 and seemed to be getting stronger when his latest ACL injury occurred.
After working through individual drills during the offseason, Butt seemingly was ready for the start of training camp on July 18, but he only made it through a few practices before shutting it down
“It’s not going how I would like it to,’’ Butt said. “But, I think a lot of people around here are much more worried than I am or the trainers are. Structurally everything’s sound. The ACL’s sound, the meniscus, MCL, everything’s sound.
“This is just experiencing what most people experience with an ACL recovery. I came back from my first one in six months. To me that’s the standard. Well this is what most people experience. They deal with soreness. Maybe it’s amplified that we started camp so early. Because I worked six months with coach (Loren) Landow and the trainers and I never had any of this soreness. It’s just different when you’re out there playing football.
“But I’m in here at 6:30 every morning. I’m working my ass off. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. I’m getting better, I’m getting closer. It’s just being smart with it. It’s three ACLs. You don’t want to go out there for the sake of being out there.’’
Butt added there is no timetable for his return to the practice field.
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