Broncos Update Insider - Sunday, June 4

With the recent release of Wesley Duke, that leaves Stephen Alexander (in photo), who started but worked mainly as a blocker last season and had 170 yards and rookie Tony Scheffler as the top tight ends on the Denver Broncos roster.

Without Jeb Putzier, the Denver Broncos are a bit thinner at tight end this season.

Putzier, who didn't start but was a valuable weapon in multiple tight end sets, was Denver's third leading receiver last season but was released in March.

With the recent release of Wesley Duke, that leaves Stephen Alexander, who started but worked mainly as a blocker last season and had 170 yards and rookie Tony Scheffler as the top tight ends on the roster.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has never had problems finding a productive tight end or two, and he wasn't worried about it this year.

"Obviously someone will step up," Shanahan said. "Exactly who that is, I'm not sure at this point."

Even in the years Shanahan hasn't had Shannon Sharpe in his offense, the tight end position has been productive. Since Shanahan took over as Denver's head coach in 1995, Sharpe, Byron Chamberlain, Dwayne Carswell, Desmond Clark and Putzier all had at least 475 yards in a season.

Denver is deeper at receiver than tight end this season, but the Broncos have often used multiple tight end packages to create mismatches in the passing game and Alexander said he expects that to continue.

"I don't think it'll change at all," Alexander said.

Denver is excited about Scheffler, a second-round pick from Western Michigan. Scheffler has good hands and speed and the Broncos hope he develops into a better blocker than Putzier.

Duke had two catches, including a touchdown last year, which isn't bad considering it was the first season Duke had played football since high school. He played basketball through his college career at Mercer. Duke went to NFL Europe and got some experience, but the Broncos decided to cut him last week.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Broncos linebacker Al Wilson said he didn't think receiver Ashley Lelie, who has been holding out of all of Denver's offseason activities, was a bad teammate. He was just concerned that he was giving himself a bad reputation by holding out.

"He's not that bad of a person, he's just, to me, he's just made kind of a bad decision now, but hopefully it turns out well for him," Wilson said. "I think his timing is a little off. When you have a guy like Rod Smith as your No. 1 guy you do have to take a back seat to a guy like that."

--New Broncos receiver Javon Walker said his relationship with Packers quarterback Brett Favre wasn't the only reason that he wanted out of Green Bay. Favre criticized Walker for threatening to hold out last offseason, and Walker ended up suffering a season-ending injury in the first week of the season.

Walker said he respected what Favre had to say, but he also wanted Favre to see his side of it.

"Obviously, coming from him, everybody is going to automatically take one side," Walker said. "But I think in this case, that wasn't the case. I had more people who agreed with me more than what he said."

--The Broncos signed three players who recently completed their seasons in NFL Europe. Linebacker Kevin Harrison, running back Marty Johnson and defensive tackle Bryan Save were signed and participated in Denver's team camp.

Save and Johnson played for the Berlin Thunder and Save played for the Cologne Centurions.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's got great hands and excellent speed. There's a learning curve, but hopefully he can translate it when the lights are on. But so far, he's looked pretty good." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on rookie tight end Tony Scheffler.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): S Chris Young.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: WR Charlie Adams; LB Louis Green.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Sam Brandon; LB Keith Burns; LB Patrick Chukwurah; RB Ron Dayne; DE John Engelberger; LS/TE Mike Leach; OT Matt Lepsis; DT Demetrin Veal; DT Gerard Warren.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: DE Kenard Lang; CB Willie Middlebrooks; WR Javon Walker; LB Nate Webster.
PLAYERS LOST: RB Mike Anderson; DE Marco Coleman; TE Wesley Duke; DT Monsanto Pope; DE Trevor Pryce; TE Jeb Putzier.



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