ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When the time comes on Saturday for the Broncos to suit up in their game uniforms, there may be no one more excited than Jake Butt.
It's been one year, seven months and eight days (as of Tuesday) since Butt last took the field during a football game, and he's already feeling the excitement in anticipation of getting his first taste of NFL game action.
"It's going to feel great getting out there, putting on the game uniform, being in our stadium and actually playing," Butt said. "That's going to be the best part, just kind of running out of that tunnel."
Since recovering from the ACL tear that he suffered in his final college game, Butt has relentlessly worked to prepare himself for his return and to get back to feeling comfortable on the field.
"It's going to feel great to make that first hit, to catch a ball and get hit," Butt said, "all that good stuff that you miss about football."
As the days remaining in training camp get fewer, every yard and every rep becomes more important.
As the Broncos prepare for that game, they released their initial depth chart. Butt is listed as the second-team tight end behind Jeff Heuerman. The former Michigan Wolverine isn't dismayed about that, though.
"Like kind of what V.J. [Head Coach Vance Joseph] said, the depth chart is just a starting point," Butt said. "We all have roles on this team. We're still working to try to earn a role on this team and earn opportunities, so the main thing is for me to just try to become the best tight end I can be, the best player I can be and the best teammate I can be."
That work continues Saturday against the Vikings, and for Butt, he'll be able to do so against some familiar faces, which makes the game even more exciting for him.
"I've also got two buddies, [center] Pat Elflein and [outside linebacker] Ben Gedeon, on the Vikings — two friends that I go way back with," Butt said. "I'm excited to hit Ben [and] I'm sure he's excited to him me, and hopefully we come home with the win."