Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during a non-contact drill in practice on Thursday and will miss the rest of the season.
The injury occurred four days before the Broncos (2-1) host a key AFC West showdown with first place Kansas City. The Chiefs (3-0) have the highest-scoring offense in the NFL at 39.3 points a game.
Butt was examined by the team’s medical staff on Thursday and then sent to have an MRI on the knee, which confirmed he suffered a torn ACL.
It is the third time in his football career the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Butt has suffered a torn ACL. He tore the ligament in his right knee in his final game for the Wolverines in 2016.
That didn’t deter the Broncos from taking him in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve and came back this year to win the starting tight end job with Denver. He had eight catches for 85 yards in the first three games.
“Jake has worked his tail off to recover from his previous injuries, and we feel terrible for him,” head coach Vance Joseph said in a statement released by the team on Thursday. “He’s a great kid who’s developed into a very good football player. We have no doubt Jake will come back stronger than ever.”
With Butt out the Broncos will rely more heavily on tight end Jeff Heuerman, who is in his fourth year out of Ohio State. Matt LaCosse, also in his fourth season, is the other tight end on the active roster. Brian Parker could be signed off the practice squad for more depth heading into Monday night’s game.
MORE INJURIES: Cornerback Tramaine Brock sat out Thursday’s practice with a thigh injury. Safety Dymonte Thomas (abdomen), cornerback Adam Jones (thigh) and linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) were limited in practice.
Joseph said earlier in the week he expects Brock and Jones to play against the Chiefs. Jones was inactive for last Sunday’s game in Baltimore and Brock left the loss to the Ravens with a groin injury. With Denver’s secondary a little banged up Joseph wanted to be cautious with the veteran Brock.
“He wasn’t feeling up to going full speed,” Joseph said. “We thought just being smart with him one more day should help him get healthy.”