Broncos’ Scheffler on comeback trail
ENGLEWOOD ” Tony Scheffler is on the comeback trail for the Denver Broncos.
The second-year tight end saw his first action in pads Tuesday since breaking his foot during team passing drills in May.
Scheffler, who emerged as one of Jay Cutler’s favorite targets down the stretch last season, underwent surgery and had a screw inserted into his left foot on May 21. Ten weeks later, he took part in limited drills.
The team won’t push it, however. Coach Mike Shanahan said Scheffler won’t participate in any contact drills for a while.
“He’s still a ways away,” Shanahan said. “He hasn’t gotten any football reps yet, but it’s a first step.”
Scheffler is eager to get back into the full swing of things.
“I think I could have done more today,” he said. “Obviously, they’re being a little bit careful with it. I respect that and appreciate that as a player. Each day I’ll be doing more and more and hopefully within the next week I’ll be at full-speed.”
Scheffler said he’s aiming to return to action by the second exhibition game, in Dallas on Aug. 18.
After his training camp debut, Scheffler retreated to the indoor facility to continue his rehabilitation along with wide receivers Rod Smith (hip) and Brandon Marshall (knee), neither of whom has practiced yet.
“We kind of lean on each other in there,” Scheffler said. “It’s funny, all of us have a left foot, left leg injury, so it’s kind of unique. We’re putting in some hard work over there. I mean, we’re over there for a couple of hours, almost the whole practice with (strength and conditioning coach Rich) Tuten and running and catching balls off the Jugs machine.”
Scheffler endured some good-natured ribbing from his teammates Tuesday after his nearly three-month hiatus. They joked that Scheffler may not remember how to put his shoulder pads on.
The jokes he can take. But watching from the sidelines, knowing he can’t participate, has been the hardest part of the tight end’s recovery.
“I missed being out there with the guys,” Scheffler said. “It’s hard walking by the practice field every day and they’re out there practicing and I’m heading to the weight room.”
He said he has no worries about his mended foot and will focus on “getting those muscles back into shape and getting the soreness out.”
STOKING THE FIRE
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley isn’t exactly celebrating his status as a starter on the depth chart. The free agent who is coming back from a torn Achilles’ tendon has been bothered by a sore left quadriceps that has limited his practice time.
“Everything else is feeling good, just trying to fight through it. This is frustrating,” Stokley said.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d be limited.
“I tried to go a little bit on it (Monday) afternoon and it feels good and then it seems like if I try to go too hard, it kind of just tightens up on me, so just kind of wait and see and try to get it healthy.”
Stokley said he’s particularly frustrated “because we’re short on receivers as it is.”
Rod Smith (hip) and Brandon Marshall (knee) have yet to practice this camp and Glenn Martinez (thigh) and Marquay McDaniel (hamstring) are also ailing.
“You want to be out there with the guys, so it’s definitely frustrating,” he said.
Stokley isn’t sure if he’ll be able to play Monday night in the preseason opener at San Francisco.
A SAUER TASTE
Todd Sauerbrun’s teammates are glad he’s back on their side.
Sauerbrun was waived last year after serving his four-game suspension for using the banned dietary aid ephedra. He ended up in New England but won his release from his contract with the Patriots this spring and hightailed back to Denver.
Fullback Kyle Johnson called Sauerbrun the strongest punter in the NFL.
“He’s pretty physical, too. You’ve seen him make some plays, force some fumbles and make some tackles. I like that about him,” Johnson said.
Sauerbrun isn’t your typical scrawny punter, packing 215 pounds on his 5-foot-10 frame.
“He is a football player,” Johnson said. “I think that’s the difference and what separates him from lot of other punters. A lot of other punters are punters. He is a football player that punts the ball.”
QB Patrick Ramsey threw four touchdown passes during morning drills Tuesday. Two of the catches were spectacular plays, as WR Javon Walker hauled in a high pass one-handed and WR Quincy Morgan corralled a tipped ball in the back of the end zone. … DE Kenard Lang had two sacks and stopped another running play in the backfield. … OT Matt Lepsis left practice early Tuesday with what coach Mike Shanahan called a groin pull. Shanahan said he wasn’t sure of the severity of the injury. … Shanahan said he was going to alternate DT Sam Adams on a schedule of one practice, followed by two days in the weight room to help recover from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery. “””
AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.