Scrim­mage “very solid for both” quar­ter­backs

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Kos­mider Nick Kos­mider: 303-954-1516, nkos­mider@den­ver­post.com or @nick­kos­mider

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.”

Pho­tos by Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

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.

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