Denver Broncos Hot Topics -Thursday, Oct. 19

Rookie tight end Tony Scheffler was expected to be a big part of the Denver Broncos' offense this year. But Scheffler has only two catches for 16 yards this season. Read more about Scheffler and all the latest personnel updates in today's edition of "Hot Topics."

Rookie tight end Tony Scheffler was expected to be a big part of the Denver Broncos' offense this year.

The second tight end has often been a big part of the passing game, and Scheffler impressed in the preseason. But Scheffler has only two catches for 16 yards this season.

"Getting off to a tough start in the regular season has been the hardest part," Scheffler said. "I'm not doing anything different, it's just not going your way. It's frustrating to find and correct that problem."

The Broncos have played Scheffler a lot, and have even split him out wide to create matchup problems. To this point, he and Jake Plummer haven't connected often. Scheffler admitted that his own mistakes are holding him back.

"Whether it be rookie mistakes or coverage not allowing for me to get the ball, there's not that many opportunities and when I get one things have to go right and I have to be on top of my game," Scheffler said. "That hasn't happened yet."

The Broncos still have high hopes for Scheffler, a second-round pick. They would be thrilled if he made an impact in the second half of the season. He was drafted in the second round to replace Jeb Putzier, Denver's third leading receiver last year who was released in the offseason.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said there is time for Scheffler to develop.

"He's got a lot of talent but there's growing pains as a rookie," Shanahan said. "He's going to be a great player but it doesn't happen overnight."

PLAYER NOTES --QB Jake Plummer might have to regain the faith of the Broncos' coaching staff. After a four-turnover game in the season opener against St. Louis, the Broncos have played very conservatively. Plummer has thrown only two interceptions in Denver's last four games.

--RB Tatum Bell is improving as a receiver. Bell has 10 catches this season and he has been more reliable catching passes out of the backfield. Screen passes to Bell are a way to get him in space and let him make big plays with his speed.

--FB Kyle Johnson has a sprained ankle. The Broncos say Johnson could return this week but they might give him another week to heal. They have confidence in backup Cecil Sapp.

--WR Rod Smith hasn't been a big part of the passing game this season. He will probably get plenty of favorable matchups the rest of the season, considering how well Javon Walker is playing on the other side.

--WR Javon Walker isn't happy about how he is being used. Walker wants the ball more because he thinks he can help get Denver's offense out of the doldrums. Walker has been a good big-play threat for the Broncos this year.

--TE Stephen Alexander has five catches this season. The Broncos need more receiving options to step up and Alexander could help fill that role.

--K Jason Elam is off to a great start. He has hit nine of 10 field goals this season. He has hit four of five field goals of 40 yards or longer.

--CB Darrent Williams might be helped if the Broncos continue to move Champ Bailey around to shadow the opponent's top receivers. Moving Bailey around would make Denver's defense less predictable and dissuade teams from game planning to attack Williams, who is in his second season.

--S Nick Ferguson has had a few crushing hits the past couple games. Ferguson and John Lynch are an intimidating tandem in the middle of the field for the Broncos' defense.

--DT Demetrin Veal is playing well as a reserve interior lineman in the Broncos' rotation. Veal is a good pass rusher and holds his own against the run.



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