After taking Wednesday off, the Broncos got right back to work on Thursday. As a sidenote, Mike Shanahan was a guest on Sirius NFL Radio yesterday talking about everything from Javon Walker/Travis Henry to Selvin Young to Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. Looking to find some audio for ya but it was an interesting 10 or so minutes. Back to business.....
There are several articles out now talking about the Broncos drive for better character. Of course, these negative piles of journalistic pizzle are taking shots at the Broncos "focus", implying that character only comes into the equation when teams are losing. If you'd like to focus on the stuff going on off the field you can do that HERE and HERE. For me, I am going to focus on the field. The Broncos have cut bait with alot of locker room-cancer guys in the past few months and I support it, even if the the perception is the talent level of the team has dropped. I don't agree, and feel it is the name recognition that has taken a hit, but, as they told me in Journalism 101, "If it bleeds, it reads." Maybe that is why I avoided the MSM.
One player with a shady past, in terms of character, is Michael Pittman. With all the focus on cleaning house, Pittman was the one player brought into the fold that has had issues in the past. Pittman says he has grown and matured over the years --
I don't know if it was temper as (much as) it was (being) new in the marriage, I was used to do everything on my own, not having to share my life, and making bad decisions. I've matured.
I'm 32 years old now. I go around and talk to kids about it. Go to high schools. I speak at seminars. I talk about making right decisions. My wife and I are still together. We're in love. We've moved on from it and we're stronger from it.
While it's easy to paint Pittman with a broad stroke, there is a story that may change your mind a bit --
From Florida, Travis Sullivan read how Pittman's past transgressions were becoming an unfair, blanket description of the man he had come to admire. Sullivan came to know Pittman six years ago during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp. Sullivan had written a letter to Pittman, enclosing a $100 check to cover his request for an autographed jersey for his 6-year-old son, Ryan.
Pittman sent back the check with the autographed jersey, then had tickets waiting for Ryan and his family for every home game. After each game, Pittman always handed Ryan his game gloves. To this day, Pittman and Ryan stay in touch.
"It's tough for me to put into words what I feel about him as a person for what he's done for my family," Travis Sullivan said. "There's people you read about in the paper and draw your own conclusions about who they are and what they are, but until you really get to know somebody, you probably don't know them."
I certainly don't condone the things that went on in Pittman's past, but 5 years since his last transgression is enough time to let it go.
Niko Koutouvides is know as a Special Teams ace, but he is hoping to change that this Re-Loading Season --
Nobody comes into this league just to play on special teams, unless they're a kicker or a returner, So when we spoke to teams, we told them, 'I want to be a linebacker first, no matter what.'
Obviously, teams are always going to say, 'We'll give him a chance, we'll give him a chance.' But, realistically, I wanted to be where I thought I would have a chance to play on defense, battle for a spot.
That's what I've waited to do.
Of course, the Broncos are also banking on K-Tou, hoping he can become a solid starter at Middle Linebacker. Nate Webster is hoping to win the job, too, and both players will split snaps throughout the summer until a starter is named.
Tony Scheffler is feeling better after having the boot removed from his injured right foot last week. Shanny said yesterday he hoped that Scheff would be ready to get back on the field next week. The 3rd Year tight end agrees -
I’m going to be up to full speed next week, and I’m going to go from there. I feel a lot better than expected.
While Scheffler is excited about his progress, he admits the constant pain has been a bit irritating --
It has been frustrating, obviously. Since we have a little bit of time, I think Coach just wanted to take it a little carefully.
Scheffler also knows the injuries have kept him from doing big things on the football field, something he look to change this season -
My first year, I was in and out of the lineup. Last year I kind of missed the first four or five games until I got going. My rookie year and sophomore season, I finished strong both years. I want to be able to build off that throughout the whole year. Hopefully this is past me, and I can start off strong.
There is no doubt that Jay Cutler feels good about Tony Scheffler's abilities and a big key to 2008 will be Scheffler's ability to stay healthy.
Marcus Thomas is looking forward to 2008, ready to show coaches and fans what he can do -
Oh yeah, I just can’t wait to get out there and show what I can do this year, especially after last year.
One concern about Thomas, however, has to be the choices he makes in his free time, specifically who he chooses to spend his time with. "Friends" from his hometown in Florida have been at the root of Thomas' problems since his days as a Gator. He's ready to move past them, and make better choices, and is thankful Shanny stuck by him -
I’m just going to hang out with guys that have a lot to lose instead of hanging out with people that don’t have a lot to lose. I’m glad he stuck behind me so I can still be on this team and still produce for this program.
Let's hope Thomas sticks to the program and makes opposing offenses pay.
Random Notes -- Center Tom Nalen did not practice yesterday and was seen wearing a wrap on his Left Knee. With Nalen ailing, newcomer and former Chief Casey Wiegmann started at center with the first team.