DENVER (AP) -- Veteran Denver Broncos guard Mark Schlereth, recovering from his 28th surgery, is using his strongest words to date that this season could be his last.
''Well,'' the 33-year-old Schlereth said, grinning, ''I'm not yet officially saying that. But I am leaning heavily toward that.''
He said he was delaying an announcement so he can focus on helping Denver rebound from a 31-21 loss to Cincinnati and return to the playoffs.
''Right now I'm looking to help this team push to get there,'' Schlereth said Tuesday. ''I think anytime you get your butt handed to you like we did (Sunday in Cincinnati), you've to go home and momma cat yourself, go lick your wounds. Obviously it hurts. But I think the character of this team is such that guys will step up and find a way to solve what has gone wrong.''
Schlereth, a graduate of Anchorage Service High School, sat out against Cincinnati but was expected to return to the lineup against the New York Jets on Nov. 5 after a bye this week.
A decision about whether to retire will come later.
''I'll wait until the end of the year to evaluate how I played and how I feel,'' Schlereth said. ''Up until last week, I played really well. Then the last week I was hurting and struggled a little bit of it because of it. I'm hoping it's back on track when I come back.''
Schlereth is in the last year of a three-year contract he signed after the Broncos won their first Super Bowl.
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