LIONS INSIDER

TE Tony Scheffler as versatile as they come for Lions offense

Posted Jul 4, 2012

Lions players always seem to be competing, whether it’s on the practice field, playing cards in the locker room, who’s the best dressed for road games or who can come up with the best touchdown dance.

In regards to the latter, tight end Tony Scheffler and receiver Nate Burleson had a weekly competition trying to outdo the other for the best touchdowns dance.

Scheffler got the best of Burleson in that competition with his smoke signal celebration after a 36-yard touchdown catch against the Chiefs in Week 2 and his flash mob dance following a 17-yard touchdown against the Panthers Nov. 20.

The simple fact that Scheffler was in the end zone three more times than Burleson last year to celebrate makes him the default winner, too. In fact, Scheffler’s six touchdown receptions were the fourth-most among all NFL tight ends last season and tied for the fourth-highest single-season tally by a tight end in team history.

Scheffler is a jack-of-all-trades for the Lions; part tight end, part blocker and part slot receiver. When the Lions needed a third receiver due to injuries the last couple years, Scheffler has stood up, moved over and played the slot.

The Lions covet versatile players, and Scheffler is as adaptable as they come in this scheme. That’s allowed Linehan to utilize his size and speed in favorable matchups.

“I think Scheffler’s role gets even (bigger) for us this year,” Linehan told detroitlions.com. “It just changes our flexibility with personnel groups.”

Scheffler had 27 catches for 347 yards last season with a 12.9 yards per catch average. His 12.9 average was second highest on the team to Calvin Johnson’s 17.5. Scheffler is a huge weapon for quarterback Matthew Stafford down the middle of the field because he’s too fast for most linebackers and too big for most safeties. Matched with tight end Brandon Pettigrew and receivers Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles, the Lions seem to have the middle of the field locked down this season.

“Part of the evolution of this offense is that we’ve got pretty much the same people that we’ve had the past few years, and we’re able to grow and put more stuff in and kind of expand on what we already have and develop guys roles and expand on them even more,” Scheffler said of the maturation he sees with his role in the offense this year.

“It’s definitely been fun. We’ve been able to be more creative with it. For a guy like me, it gives Scott the chance to dissect the offense even more and get the guys that are playing well more plays and more opportunities. It definitely is a performance-based type of thing.”

Based on last year’s performance, Scheffler should get plenty more chances to try and top Burleson in the touchdown celebration department this year.

“I’m pumped, man,” Scheffler said of the potential for the offense this year. “I think everyone is pumped. It’s fun. We’re excited for the future.”