Fo­cus stays on the field

QB de­bate isn’t af­fect­ing Siemian

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nicki Jhab­vala

LAKE­WOOD» Al­most daily, a deep voice booms from lo­cal sports talk ra­dio telling lis­ten­ers to “CHOOSE YOUR SIDE! Will it be Team Siemian or Team Lynch?”

Na­tional head­lines have pro­moted sim­i­lar polls and pre­dic­tions. Lo­cal head­lines, well, we’re guilty too.

The Bron­cos’ quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion is the event of the sum­mer. It has been an­a­lyzed and cov­ered from ev­ery an­gle since early Jan­uary, be­fore the con­tenders even stepped on the field.

Trevor Siemian says he’s not lis­ten­ing to the hype. He’s not read­ing the reviews, not lis­ten­ing to the noise, not read­ing the com­ments that flow in by the minute — many of which are bit­ing and all of which are opin­ion­ated.

“It’s easy be­cause once you’re in the build­ing, in camp, noth­ing else mat­ters,” he said Fri­day at a sur­prise shop­ping event for a group of chil­dren at Dick’s Sport­ing Goods. “Noth­ing out­side the build­ing is re­ally de­ter­min­ing any­thing. So it’s rel­a­tively easy for me to stay fo­cused on the task at hand.”

The fans have no say. Nor do the me­dia. But Siemian knows who does, and he knows what to ex­pect. He knew in 2016, when he beat out vet­eran Mark Sanchez for the start­ing job. And he knows now, as he pre­pares to again fight Pax­ton Lynch, a first-round draft pick, to re­tain his start­ing job.

With a new scheme and new coach­ing staff, Siemian and Lynch, as well as the en­tire of­fense, are start­ing anew. But the re­turn to an open quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion cer­tainly isn’t.

“Each year is like that and we got a new staff any­how, so it’s a clean slate for all of us,” Siemian said. “That’s how I’m ap­proach­ing it. I played last year, so I have some ex­pe­ri­ences I can lean on and grow from and con­tinue to im­prove.”

There’s no repli­cat­ing live reps, and at this point Siemian has more in the tank than Lynch af­ter start­ing 14 games last sea­son.

Help­ful? Sure. But it’s the reps Siemian will re­ceive in the com­ing weeks that will count the most.

At the end of or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties, coach Vance Joseph said the prior months of on-field work were about learn­ing Mike McCoy’s new of­fense, which was fully in­stalled be­fore the play­ers left for break. Those weeks counted “zero to none” to­ward de­cid­ing the team’s start­ing quar­ter­back, Joseph said.

But that changes start­ing July 27 at train­ing camp.

Now com­fort­able with the new play­book, Siemian said he’s still work­ing to­ward the mas­tery level that comes with more time on the field. Dur­ing his five weeks off, he re­viewed tape of ev­ery rep from OTAs and camp, as well as some of the de­fense’s reps, to take men­tal notes of what needs fur­ther tweak­ing: what he did well and what he can do bet­ter.

“I think if I just keep get­ting bet­ter,” he said. “I think I did some things I can build on last year and there are some things I want to do bet­ter. For me, I’m just fo­cused on im­prov­ing and I think if I can take care of things on my end then ev­ery­thing will work out.”

Last year, then-coach Gary Ku­biak ap­pointed Siemian the starter af­ter the third pre­sea­son game, with mere weeks be­fore the sea­son opener. The late de­ci­sion was ex­pected as the com­pe­ti­tion pro­gressed, but it also af­forded lit­tle time for the of­fense to work as one with the true start­ing quar­ter­back be­fore the sea­son be­gan.

“That was re­ally the first time I got a good bit of reps so that was im­por­tant for me and I wasn’t get­ting too far ahead of my­self and I’m still try­ing to keep that same men­tal­ity,” Siemian said. “It’s not up to me. For me, just stay­ing with that same men­tal­ity — I want to be bet­ter than I was yes­ter­day — I think that will help me out.”

The com­pe­ti­tion then — and per­haps now — hinges on enough live reps for each quar­ter­back to en­sure thor­ough eval­u­a­tion. But De­mary­ius Thomas said he would like to know his start­ing quar­ter­back be­fore the sec­ond pre­sea­son game in Cal­i­for­nia. And fel­low wide re­ceiver Em­manuel Sanders said if he had his way, he would like to know now. Am­bi­tious?

“It’s prob­a­bly a good thing the re­ceivers aren’t coach­ing the team,” Siemian said with a laugh. “But Coach Joseph will make the right call for the team and put us in a good spot to win games.”

Although the of­fense’s ear­lier plans to get to­gether in Los An­ge­les for an in­for­mal pass­ing camp fell through, Siemian said he’s hop­ing to cor­ral some of his re­ceivers at a lo­cal high school be­fore camp starts.

Be­cause once camp opens, the fo­cus is sin­gu­lar. No noise, no hype. Even if it is the big­gest event of the sum­mer.

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