Scrimmage “very solid for both” quarterbacks
The starting quarterback competition for the Broncos was never intended to be a drag race.
Preseason games, first-year Denver coach Vance Joseph said often before training camp began, would play a major role in determining whether Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch would lead the team into the regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 11.
That first exhibition game, at Chicago on Thursday, is still a few days away. So while Saturday’s scrimmage was a “huge” opportunity to provide some clarity in position battles across the roster, Joseph said Friday, its final whistle wasn’t met with any sweeping declarations.
“Very solid for both guys,” Joseph said Saturday, summarizing his evaluation of the two quarterbacks in a scrimmage that featured roughly a dozen plays for both players.
But Siemian continued to gain an edge in one key area: ball security. It was a major part of his equation in earning the starting job in training camp last season. And it helped him gain an edge Saturday, when he was free of turnovers while Lynch threw a costly interception.
“Over the last couple of days I’ve started to get more and more comfortable,” said Siemian, who has rarely turned the ball over during full-team periods the past week. “I’m feeling the rhythm and getting the big picture of what we’re trying to do offensively. I’m very lucky to be practicing against our defense because this is as hard as it’s going to get for us. We’re getting there.”
Siemian and Lynch each ran a series with the first team with mixed results. Siemian, who had the first shot with the top unit, completed 2-of-3 passes for roughly 20 yards and moved the Broncos into field-goal range. His top throw was a well-placed ball down the seam to Bennie Fowler for about 15 yards.
On his series with the second team, Siemian completed 1-of-2 passes. His incompletion was a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Adam Gotsis, and the completion was an out route for 8 yards to rookie Isaiah Mckenzie.
“I saw from Trevor that he was very consistent with his ball placement,” Joseph said. “He made the correct reads most of the time. He had one ball knocked down, not his fault. But very solid.”
Lynch, on his third play with the first team, threw an interception under pressure to Chris Harris. The all-pro cornerback said he left his receiver running a vertical route to seize a route inside and make the play.
“That’s called route recognition,” Harris said. “I’m at that level, smart to be able to let my man go and jump routes.”
“He held the ball too late on that (play),” Joseph added. “He had a guy open in the flat early on, but he held the ball, held the ball, held the ball. It’s a time clock thing. As you hold the ball, the defense, they recover — and they did and picked the ball off.”
Lynch later ran two series with the secondteam offense. During the first, he missed on consecutive passes to tight ends A.J. Derby and Jeff Hueremann, leading to a three-andout. The second-year quarterback out of Memphis bounced back with a sharp throw of about 15 yards on the sideline to Kalif Raymond on his next drive.
The play was called back by a personal foul penalty on offensive tackle Donald Stephenson that drew the ire of Joseph. Later in the drive, Lynch found Jordan Taylor with a nice throw on the sideline. That play, too, was brought back by a penalty.
“Paxton, outside the interception, was very solid,” Joseph said. “Again, his best play of the day was called back by a penalty. That would have been a pretty good drive for Paxton, in my opinion. The penalty brought it back.”
Lynch drew positives from his performance Saturday, pointing to the interception as another opportunity to learn before hitting the field in Chicago on Thursday.
“Overall, I thought it was good,” Lynch said. “I had some good plays out there that kind of got called back by penalties. There was a couple throws, too, that were bang-bang plays — defensive players made good plays on it. I threw that one pick that I can’t have, but that’s what practice is for and what training camp is for, to take your chances and make your mistakes out here so that when you get in the game you learn from them.”
Quarterback Trevor Siemian had one edge in Saturday’s scrimmage — he didn’t turn over the ball.
Quarterback Paxton Lynch threw a costly interception in Saturday’s scrimmage.