TE BUTT SAYS HE FEELS 100 PER­CENT

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - — Kyle Fredrick­son and Ryan O’Hal­lo­ran, The Denver Post

If there were any ques­tions about Jake Butt’s health en­ter­ing the Bron­cos’ manda­tory mini­camp, the sec­ond-year tight end an­swered them — quickly.

Butt, who en­dured two ACL tears since 2014 to his right knee, caught two touch­down passes Wed­nes­day just min­utes apart dur­ing a seg­ment of Bron­cos red-zone drills. One from Case Keenum. An­other from Pax­ton Lynch.

“I feel 100 per­cent,” Butt said fol­low­ing Day 2 of mini­camp. “I feel quick in and out of my cuts, and I feel strong block­ing. Right now, it’s just more fine-tun­ing the tech­nique and try­ing to build on the things that we worked on this spring.”

Butt is fight­ing for depth-chart po­si­tion­ing among a mostly un­proven unit. Fourth-year Bron­cos tight end Jeff Heuer­man has the most ex­pe­ri­ence but has just 18 career NFL re­cep­tions. Butt, if he stays healthy, will have am­ple op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish him­self as the starter.

“Very ex­cited (with Butt’s progress),” Bron­cos coach Vance Joseph said. “He works so hard, and he’s ob­vi­ously a play­maker (when) you watch him catch the foot­ball. He’s go­ing to be a great ad­di­tion to our of­fense.”

Henderson, Bell sit out.

Join­ing De­mary­ius Thomas (foot) as spec­ta­tors for the sec­ond prac­tice were fel­low wide re­ceivers Car­los Henderson and Kenny Bell, both of whom have ham­string in­juries. Henderson, a thir­dround draft pick last year, did not have a catch in team drills Tues­day and did side-field work Wed­nes­day.

“It started in Phase 2 and hasn’t got­ten bet­ter,” Joseph said of Henderson’s in­jury. “He has to get back on the field if he wants to make this foot­ball team.”

Strong words, for sure, but also ac­cu­rate words con­sid­er­ing the Bron­cos drafted Courtland Sut­ton and DaeSean Hamil­ton this year.

Joseph said Bell has been “nicked also all off­sea­son.”

“You can’t make the foot­ball team on the side­line,” Joseph said. “Those guys have to get back on the field, es­pe­cially in that (re­ceiver) room. It’s a com­pet­i­tive room. It’s a full room. If you’re not prac­tic­ing, your chances of mak­ing the team are slim to none.”

Footnotes. The Bron­cos ran 98 plays of 11-on-11 dur­ing the work­out. “(Tues­day) started a lit­tle slow af­ter four days off, and it was a long prac­tice,” Joseph said. “(Wed­nes­day) was a lit­tle crisper, in my opin­ion. They came out with more fire and en­ergy.” … The of­fense fin­ished prac­tice with two hurry-up drills that moved into field-goal range. “What im­pressed me is the of­fense drove the ball and got two field goals,” Joseph said. “That’s the key. You want to prac­tice win­ning games of­fen­sively.” … The catch of the day was by Sut­ton, who was cov­ered tightly by rookie cor­ner­back Isaac Yi­adom but caught the pass with one hand and cra­dled it into his body. … The Bron­cos com­plete their off­sea­son pro­gram Thurs­day with a third mini­camp prac­tice.

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