LYNCH WILL START

Siemian ruled out with in­jury

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nicki Jhab­vala

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.”

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