LYNCH WILL START
Siemian ruled out with injury
Paxton Lynch will get his second NFL start Sunday at Jacksonville, as Trevor Siemian was ruled out Friday with a left foot injury.
Siemian injured his foot early in overtime against Kansas City on Sunday, and missed his third consecutive practice Friday as a result. Although he played the remainder of the game and threw for a career-high 368 yards passing, three touchdowns and no interceptions, he said he experienced soreness the next morning and team trainers instructed him to wear a walking boot while recovering.
Siemian was labeled day to day with the injury, and coach Gary Kubiak said earlier in the week that Siemian could still play Sunday without practicing — if he was physically ready.
But on Friday, it became clear he wouldn’t be.
“The plan today was to take the boot off him this morning and do a few things with Greek (head athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos) and kind of see where we’re at,” Kubiak said. “And after doing that, we made a decision to put it back on him today. I don’t know for sure if he’ll wear it through the weekend. He’ll definitely travel with us to the game so that Greek can continue to work with him through the weekend, and we’ll see where we’re at.”
Kubiak clarified that the decision to keep the boot on Siemian’s foot isn’t a sign that the injury was worse than the team thought.
“No steps back or anything like that,” Kubiak said of Siemian’s recovery.
“I think we just say he’s day to day right now. Hopefully, we’ll make some progress in Jacksonville — (Saturday) morning here and then in Jacksonville. He probably won’t be on the field during the game. We’ll probably have him go up with (offensive coordinator Rick Dennison) in the booth. We’ll see.”
In Siemian’s absence at practice this week, Lynch and veteran Austin Davis shared the practice reps, with Lynch preparing to get his first start on the road, roughly 115 miles from his hometown of Deltona, Fla.
“It’s been a good week for him,” Kubiak said. “We went inside (the Broncos’ indoor field house) today and turned up the noise. Paxton is working really hard, and I’m really proud of how far he’s come and how hard he’s working. We need to play good around him — that’s our job as a football team to help him out. But the kid is really working hard at what he does.”
Lynch played the second half of the Broncos’ win at Tampa Bay in early October when Siemian was sidelined with a sprained left shoulder. He got his first start against the Falcons in Week 5 and threw for 223 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but also was sacked six times as the Broncos took their first loss of the season.
This time around, Lynch has said he feels more comfortable and confident under center — and the Broncos need him to be. Their loss to Kansas City pushed them to No. 7 in the AFC playoff standings, making their five remaining games almost mustwins.
“I’m confident in myself,” Lynch said. “I think the guys around me feel confident in me, too. … When I first got here, it was weird because I was in the gun so much (at Memphis). But, like everything, the more you get repetitions of it, the more comfortable you feel. And you watch yourself on film and correct it, and it just gets easier to you.”
Lynch’s comfort will be tested against a team that has lost its last six games and sits at the bottom of the AFC South with a 2-9 record. The Jaguars lag in most offensive categories but rank sixth in total defense (320.9 yards allowed per game) and third in passing defense (204.3 yards).
The contest is a should-win for Denver but hardly a guarantee.
“We can’t afford to lose this game, period,” said outside linebacker Shane Ray. “We couldn’t afford to lose last week’s game and we did, so I just think the mentality from here on out is we still control our destiny.
“We have to take control of every week and opportunities that we have, starting with Jacksonville. I think there is a sense of urgency on the team that we have to beat them. We have to continue to get wins if we’re trying to get to the playoffs.”