08-02-2005, 12:46 PM
Putzier hopes for more looks from Plummer
Broncos tight end wants more chances to make plays in red zone
By Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
August 2, 2005
ENGLEWOOD — Shannon Sharpe retires and the Broncos forget how to score in the red zone.
Coincidence? Not according to the Denver Broncos' current starting tight end.
Jeb Putzier, whose 15.9 yards-per-catch average led all AFC tight ends, believes the key to scoring touchdowns inside the 20 this season will be for Jake Plummer to trust his tight ends again.
In 2003, Sharpe led the Broncos with eight touchdown catches. Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie, Ed McCaffrey and Clinton Portis had five touchdown catches combined that season.
08-02-2005, 12:46 PM
I've got to increase my role to help this team go further," Putzier said. "Hopefully I can do that and make myself more of a threat to open up other guys."
Indianapolis (32.6 points per game), Kansas City (30.2) and San Diego (27.9) were the three highest-scoring teams in the AFC last season because each offense was able to finish drives, often with a tight end touchdown.
Remember when Plummer called an audible at the goal-line and then tried to force the ball to Smith in the corner of the end zone at Qualcomm Stadium last December? Probably should have faked a hand-off to Reuben Droughns, rolled out of the pocket and looked for Putzier sneaking into the end zone.
"The top three offensive teams in the red zone last year have great tight ends — Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark at Indianapolis," Putzier noticed. "Hopefully, we can bring that system here and our tight ends can help out in the red zone right now."
A year ago, the Broncos brought Byron Chamberlain back and signed veterans Jed Weaver and O.J. Santiago to help fill the void left by Sharpe's departure. But at the end of camp they were each cut from the roster after Mike Shanahan decided to replace Sharpe primarily with Putzier and Dwayne Carswell.
Putzier finished the 2004 season with career highs in catches (36), receiving yards (572 — 4th in the AFC among TEs) and touchdown receptions (2). With Carswell moving to the offensive line this offseason, those numbers should all go up in the fall.
"Last year some guys had a different attitude than I think maybe I had, and maybe that's why they weren't here anymore," Putzier said. "I got a ton of confidence getting more reps in games instead of practice and getting a chance to go up against a lot of great players all year. They put me in tough situations and they had confidence in me. Coming into this year, I feel a lot better about myself and my position on this team."
The Broncos made two moves this offseason — hiring Tim Brewster as the new tight ends coach and signing veteran Stephen Alexander — that should improve the overall production at the position. Brewster helped develop Gates while working in San Diego; Alexander, who also played for Brewster with the Chargers, had 41 receptions with 15 starts for Detroit last season.
"(Brewster) can step up my level of game a whole bunch. I can go really far with him," Putzier said. " I think he can make this tight end group the best tight end group in the NFL, without a doubt. ...
"(Alexander) is awesome. He's helped me in so many ways being a veteran and a leader on the team, just the type of guy he is. He's been with Brewster before, so some of the things we're learning he's helping us with. He's a great, underrated player right now in the NFL."
Copyright 2005, Boulder Publishing LLC
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08-02-2005, 01:11 PM
Who has Putz as their adopt-a-Bronco?
With his nice new paycheck, I'm going to have some issues if he doesn't come through big.