Broncos TE Scheffler on board with role in offense

By: AP
By: AP

Tony Scheffler has no beef with Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and insists he's on board even after the team traded his good buddy, Jay Cutler.

Any friction that might have existed dissipated after a recent chat the tight end had with his head coach.

Scheffler and McDaniels sat down to clear the air, discussing his role with the team.

The conversation was cathartic.

"Everything's fine," Scheffler said Thursday after the third day of passing camp. "It's not about me. It's not about any individual on this team right now. We're really focused on the team and moving forward. I think we're doing a lot of good things."

There were rumors swirling in the offseason that Denver was shopping Scheffler, not sure how he would fit into the new intricate offense that McDaniels was implementing.

The meeting with McDaniels staunched those.

As for frayed feelings, there are none.

"Water off a duck's back - move forward and move to the next day," said Scheffler, who caught 40 passes for 645 yards and three touchdowns last season. "You can't really have hurt feelings in this league or else you'll get left behind in a hurry."

These days, McDaniels is envisioning a big role for his reliable receiving tight end, who's looks slimmer and sleeker.

"Tony's a very, very highly skilled player," McDaniels said. "He can do a lot of things -- he can run, he can catch, he can block. We're going to take advantage of every skill that he has. He's made a good impression on our team here."

McDaniels admits he's never coached a tight end quite like Scheffler, one with the ability to stretch the field with a combination of speed and athleticism.

"Tony is probably the most skilled pass-receiving tight end that I've had an opportunity to be around," McDaniels said. "That's a weapon for us that we can move around on the field. We're going to try to feature him in that role."

Now if he can just stay healthy. That's been the knock on Scheffler, who missed three games with a groin injury last season and was bothered by a broken foot before the 2007 season.

"The whole hurt label is kind of overrated with me," he said. "I've only missed four games in three years, if you really look at it. It's frustrating, don't get my wrong, but at the same time it's something you've got to battle through and learn from. I think I've done that. It makes you really appreciate being on the field and being out there with the guys."

Scheffler and Cutler formed quite the connection after the two were taken in the same draft class. Scheffler was a frequent target for the strong-armed quarterback when Cutler found himself in a jam.

However, that came to a halt when Cutler was traded to the Chicago Bears in the offseason after deciding he didn't want to play for McDaniels.

The two remain close, texting and talking all the time.

"I'm sure Jay is going to have a lot of success, a ton of success, in Chicago," Scheffler said.

McDaniels understands the loyalty.

"I'm sure there were quite a few players that had relationships with Jay," McDaniels said. "But they've done a great job of saying, 'You know what? This is our team now, these are our quarterbacks."'

Those quarterbacks would be Chris Simms and Kyle Orton, who are in a hotly contested tussle to land Cutler's spot.

McDaniels has yet to settle on a starting quarterback, preferring to wait and see who gains the upper hand through minicamps.

"I think the (players) have embraced both Chris and I," said Orton, who was acquired as part of the Cutler deal. "We've come in here, worked hard and pretty much kept our mouths shut and tried to improve every day."

So far, Scheffler likes what he sees from both of them.

"We've got two pretty darn good quarterbacks," he said.

Scheffler's unsure what his precise role will be, only that he's hoping to find himself locked up in coverage by a linebacker.

"Those are the matchups I've got to win," Scheffler said. "There's a lot of weapons on the field, so when your number is called you've got to step up and make a play or else you don't know when the next one's going to come."

Notes: McDaniels said that once Brandon Marshall's surgically repaired hip feels up to it, the receiver will return to the field. "It'll depend on his rehab," McDaniels said. "We're not going to rush anything. When Brandon's healthy, Brandon will be out here." ... The team released RB J.J. Arrington after he failed a physical due to a balky right knee.

(Copyright Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)


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