Broncos’ QB competition has a familiar feel to it
AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The first real day of the Broncos’ quarterback competition looked a lot like last year’s no-contest audition when ex-third-stringer Trevor Siemian beat rookie Paxton Lynch and veteran Mark Sanchez.
On Tuesday, Siemian was poised, patient and precise while facing Denver’s “No Fly Zone” secondary and pass rushers for the first time this offseason.
Lynch was erratic, threw into coverage early on and watched linebacker Brandon Marshall intercept him.
Although things settled down after that, the first day of OTAs proved one thing: if Lynch is going to win this job, the 2016 first-round pick has a long way to go to unseat Siemian, the 2015 seventh-rounder who was an afterthought until emerging as Peyton Manning’s surprise successor last season.
First-year head coach Vance Joseph, whose declaration of a “50-50” open quarterback competition in Denver this summer makes for the biggest position battle in the NFL this offseason, wasn’t rushing to judgment after Day 1.
“It was OK,” Joseph said. “It was the first day, obviously, but they both threw the ball well. They both commanded the huddle really well today. So, it was a good day.”
Siemian worked with the starters and Lynch the second-stringers. They’ll flip-flop Wednesday.
“It’s going to be day by day,” Joseph said. “Today it was Trevor’s turn to be with the first unit; tomorrow it will be Paxton’s. So, it’ll be day by day. There’s 10 OTAs. So, it’ll be five and five. Very even.”
The Broncos are giving Lynch every chance to win the job after GM John Elway moved up to select him with the 26th overall pick last year.
Lynch never really challenged Siemian last summer when the 250th overall pick in the 2015 draft parlayed his yearlong apprenticeship under Manning and Brock Osweiler into the starting job. He went 8-6 but was beset by injuries and Lynch started two games in his place, beating Tampa Bay but losing to Atlanta.
Lynch said he won’t get caught up in who he’s throwing to or against during the OTAs and next month’s minicamp.
“I think every rep is important whether you’re with the 1s or you’re with the 2s,” he said.
SHOTGUN WEDDING: Mike McCoy has installed a new offense in Denver that features more shotgun snaps than Gary Kubiak’s old run-based offense.
“To me, it’s pretty different but I feel like it fits more of how I play and I’m more comfortable in it,” Lynch said. “There’s a little bit more similarities to what I did at Memphis compared to what I had to do last year.”
That’s not really an advantage for Lynch, though, because McCoy’s system also fits Siemian’s skills.
“I think any quarterback will tell you they like being in the gun,” Siemian said. “You’re five yards back, you catch the ball and can kind of see what’s going on.”
CENTER OF ATTENTION: With Matt Paradis out until August following offseason surgeries on both hips, second-year pro Connor McGovern is drawing praise as his fill-in.
“He’s doing awesome,” Siemian said. “And it’s a new scheme, too, which is impressive. He’s come a long way from last year, so it’s good to have Connor up there and, knock on wood, Matt will be back and he’ll be all right. But it’s good to see Connor growing and getting more reps with us.”
IT’S A CELEBRATION: The Broncos are celebrating the NFL’s decision to let players trumpet their touchdowns with celebrations that for years resulted in flags and fines.
“I like it,” Joseph said. “It’s a hard league and scoring a touchdown is hard in this league. And let’s allow them to have fun. Why not? It hurts no one.”
Emmanuel Sanders has a reputation for flamboyant TD celebrations, most of them within the rules but not always.
“Now I can go a little overboard without getting cussed out by the head coach,” Sanders said.
FIRST TO SECOND: The Broncos’ top draft pick, left tackle Garett Bolles , started out with the second-string O-line behind veteran Donald Stephenson.
“He’s a rookie,” Joseph said. “He has to earn his way.”
Joseph added that Ty Sambrailo, who’s finally healthy and able to focus on strengthening his upper body, is also in the mix to serve as the blindside protector to either Siemian or Lynch.
BUTT IN: Tight end Jake Butt , RB Jamaal Charles and QB Chad Kelly, all coming back from knee injuries, didn’t practice. But Butt would listen to the play in the huddle before retreating to the sideline between snaps.
It’s a sign of how hopeful the Broncos are that Butt will return from a torn ACL to be a factor in 2017.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.