From a superb preseason to a place in the starting 11 to a Sunday sideline spot in sweats. Running back Mike Bell wasn’t the only rookie to experience that kind of start to his NFL career, as Tony Scheffler, a starter in three of Denver’s first five games, found himself out of the mix in Week 10.
“Right before the game Sunday is when I first knew,” Scheffler said. “It’s hard, obviously, (because) coming off of preseason it looked pretty good.
“Finally, I think, (I was) starting to turn it around against Indianapolis (a four-catch, 51-yard day), but obviously there’s still a lot of work to be done, so I’ve just got to keep working hard.”
But at Oakland, he watched as Denver’s tight ends had their most productive collective performance of the year. After combining for 123 yards on 11 receptions in the first eight games — including 67 on six catches for Scheffler — Stephen Alexander and Nate Jackson collaborated for nine grabs and 82 yards at Oakland.
“Obviously I’m not doing something right,” Scheffler said. “It’s one of those things where you’ve just got to look at everything that you do and re-evaluate and keep working hard, know the system and that sort of thing.”
When asked whether he’d been told specifically what he needed to do to get back on the field, he replied, “Not really,” but then continued and had an idea where he’d come up short.
“It’s kind of frustrating, but at the same time I think it’s something of a confidence issue,” Scheffler said. “Maybe they just need to see a little bit more out of me in practice I guess.”
Which is exactly where he can get his playing time back.
“We’re going to evaluate guys on a day-by-day basis, how they do in practice (and) how they do in the games,” Head Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday, “and sometimes practice weighs as heavy as game day, and part of the decisions that we make during the season are based on all those ingredients.”
For now, though, Scheffler’s most pressing indvidual goal is making himself an ingredient in the Broncos’ on-field recipe once again.
“(Being benched) can take your confidence down or else you can keep working hard and get back out there,” Scheffler said. “You try to not let it affect you and just keep practicing hard and hopefully get back out there sooner than later.”