Broncos' Jake Butt a feel-good story on NFL's cutdown day

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Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt takes part in drills during an NFL football practice in empty Empower Field at Mile High, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Star-crossed tight end Jake Butt felt better this summer than ever before. On Saturday he joined Washington quarterback Alex Smith as one of the NFL's biggest feel-good stories on cutdown day.

Smith returned from his gruesome 2018 leg injury to make Washington's roster.

Butt made Denver's roster after overcoming his sixth knee operation to stand out among a deep group of tight ends featuring 2019 first-rounder Noah Fant, heralded rookie Albert Okwuegbunam and free agent Nick Vannett.

Butt was a long shot a month ago.

“Well, I was kind of hopeful,” he'd made the cut, general manager John Elway said. “With everything that he’s been through I was hopeful because he’s such a great kid and it means so much to him. So, the good thing is this is probably the first time he’s come back to camp 100%.

“I’m excited about Jake. It’s something that he really wanted, so hopefully it continues to get even better from here.”

In three seasons in Denver, the ex-Michigan star has played in as many games (three) as he’s had major knee surgeries, each of which required a clean-up procedure.

Butt turned heads at camp from the very start, drawing high praise from his coach, Vic Fangio, and his quarterback, Drew Lock, who declared, “There’s nobody in our locker room that doesn’t want to see Jake Butt succeed.”