Tight end Tony Scheffler is a Chelsea native who played at Western Michigan. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — The Lions released tight end Tony Scheffler on Tuesday to make room for a much-needed offensive tackle.
Scheffler spent three plus-season in Detroit and was mostly productive during his time with his hometown team.
A Chelsea native who played at Western Michigan, Scheffler was in the final year of his contract and said during training camp he wanted to finish his career with the Lions. However, the emergence of rookie tight end Joseph Fauria, who has five touchdowns this season, made Scheffler expendable.
Scheffler suffered a concussion in a Week 5 loss to the Packers and hadn't practiced since, but because he was released as opposed to waived for injury, he must've been cleared to return. The concussion was Scheffler's third during his time with the Lions, and he didn't experience symptoms until two days after the game.
Another team could take a chance on Scheffler this season because of his prior production. In seven-plus NFL seasons, including four with the Broncos, Scheffler had 258 catches for 3,207 yards and 22 touchdowns, six of which came during the Lions' 10-6 season in 2011.
One recent issue, though, was Scheffler's drops. He dropped three passes on his 12 targets this season.
The Lions signed offensive tackle Barry Richardson to fill Scheffler's spot on the 53-man roster. Starting offensive tackles Riley Reiff (hamstring) and Corey Hilliard (knee) both suffered injuries in Sunday's loss to the Bengals, though Reiff did return to the game. Tackle Jason Fox (knee) has missed the past two games.
Richardson was among the Titans' final cuts this season, but he started 16 games at right tackle for the Rams last season. He also started every game at right tackle for the Chiefs in 2010 and 2011.
If Reiff or Hilliard can't play, rookie LaAdrian Waddle will likely start, but Richardson will provide necessary depth.