ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the world of 140-character commentary or drive-time callers, few Denver Broncos players have been the source of more exclamation points in recent weeks than right tackle Michael Schofield.
Schofield, a third-round pick in the 2014 draft who is in his first stint as a starter, was the player across from Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack on four of Mack’s five sacks Dec. 13 against the Broncos. And it was Schofield who was on the San Diego Chargers' Melvin Ingram, who used two inside moves -- the first when Ingram forced an interception with a hit on Brock Osweiler and the second when Schofield was flagged for holding -- on two notable plays in the regular-season finale this past Sunday.
However, Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who has been a longtime offensive line coach in his career, said he still has seen “some improvement" in Schofield, who figures to be challenged by opposing defensive coordinators in whatever becomes of the Broncos’ postseason.
Asked if Schofield’s struggles have been related to technique or confidence, Dennison said, "A little bit of both, I think, but he still has shown some improvement. He did some good stuff. Like I said, in the run game he did a good job. There were a couple (pass protections) and he was in fine shape. His hands were in a good spot. Then he drifts and something happens. Maybe he’s seeing ghosts or something. We just have to get him settled and then keep working with him because he has a lot of talent."
In the regular-season finale last Sunday, Schofield was replaced in the lineup by Tyler Polumbus in the third quarter just after Peyton Manning went in at quarterback. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak has said both Schofield and Polumbus will likely work at right tackle in some kind of rotation Jan. 17 in the playoff opener even if Polumbus were to replace Schofield in the starting lineup.
In the Broncos’ 27-20 win over the Chargers, Schofield played 45 snaps in the game while Polumbus played 27 snaps.
“You just try to be ready," Polumbus said. “I’ll do whatever they ask me to do, but I think we’ve got things coming together ... people getting comfortable in the system."
Some personnel executives in the league have said they see Schofield’s confidence waver in games, at times, and from a technical standpoint some defensive coaches say that in an effort to keep opposing rushers from getting around his outside shoulder Schofield gets caught leaning to the outside, takes too deep a step and leaves openings to the inside because he can't recover.
Dennison said he looks at the body of work and still sees potential.
“Because you see him miss and then he’ll come back and do it right," Dennison sad. “We just keep working. We’ve got a good group. They all work hard. I think our effort, if you sat down and looked at the film, our effort was tremendous throughout."