Siemian to make ini­tial pre­sea­son start

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nicki Jhab­vala

The Bron­cos re­leased their first depth chart Mon­day, and it listed their No. 1 quar­ter­back as Trevor Siemian “OR” Pax­ton Lynch as the two con­tinue to vie for the start­ing job.

Coach Vance Joseph said Siemian will start the Bron­cos’ first pre­sea­son game at Chicago on Thurs­day and Lynch will start the fol­low­ing week against the San Fran­cisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., to en­sure both re­ceive equal play­ing time.

But the des­ig­na­tions lack their usual mean­ing in the quar­ter­back race, and so do other bat­tles on the ros­ter. The starter for the pre­sea­son opener, Joseph in­sisted, is not the leader of the com­pe­ti­tion and not an in­di­ca­tor of who will start the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“No, no, no. He’s first out. He’s been first out all train­ing camp. He’s been first out all spring,” Joseph said of Siemian. “It’s an open com­pe­ti­tion. The games mat­ter. The games start Thurs­day. I want to start the games so I can get to the bot­tom of this.”

Joseph said he’s still un­sure of the snap count for each quar­ter­back in pre­sea­son, “but it’s go­ing to be more than most start­ing quar­ter­backs would play the first cou­ple of weeks.” And re­gard­less of who starts, both are ex­pected to see time with the first-team of­fense in each game.

“It’s go­ing to be a mix of both,” Joseph said. “Ob­vi­ously when the first guy leaves, we’re go­ing to keep some ‘ones’ in just to keep the of­fense in­tact so the guy can play his best.”

While the quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion re­mains open, first-round draft pick Garett Bolles ap­pears to have a leg up in the com­pe­ti­tion at left of­fen­sive tackle. The rookie was listed as the leader on the left side, with veteran Ty Sam­brailo as his backup.

“It means noth­ing to me. It’s just my name on a piece of pa­per,” Bolles said. “I’ve got Ty Sam­brailo and I got Don­ald Stephen­son com­ing af­ter me every sin­gle day, and I’ve got to be ready to take my spot away from them. But at the same time, they’re push­ing me. They’re great team­mates to have, they’re great tack­les and I’m just go­ing to con­tinue to get ready every day.”

At left guard, Max Gar­cia is listed ahead of re­cently signed veteran Allen Bar­bre, and Ron Leary is, un­sur­pris­ingly, the start­ing right guard.

At right tackle Mene­lik Wat­son

is listed first and Stephen­son sec­ond. Stephen­son re­struc­tured his con­tract dur­ing the off­sea­son, re­quir­ing him to make the 53-man ros­ter to earn the other half of his guar­an­teed pay ($2 mil­lion) this year.

One of the Bron­cos’ tight­est po­si­tional races is at run­ning back, and the depth chart of­fers some clar­ity. C.J. An­der­son leads and Devon­tae Booker is No. 2. Booker, how­ever, re­cently un­der­went surgery to re­pair a frac­ture in his wrist and isn’t ex­pected back un­til the reg­u­lar sea­son. Ja­maal Charles, who is still eas­ing his way back from mul­ti­ple knee surg­eries, tops the group of back­ups, fol­lowed by veteran Ste­van Ri­d­ley, rookie De’An­gelo Hen­der­son, Juwan Thomp­son and Bernard Pierce.

“We placed the guys that are in­jured in the spot they would be in if they weren’t in­jured. So ‘Book’ fin­ished the spring as No. 2,” Joseph ex­plained, ad­ding that Booker had an out­stand­ing spring. “Book was push­ing to be the top guy. … We have a plan for Ja­maal. We won’t re­veal that yet. But he’s go­ing to play in the pre­sea­son.”

The re­ceiver group, which is still look­ing for its No. 3 wide­out be­hind De­mary­ius Thomas and Em­manuel San­ders, has Bennie Fowler and Cody La­timer as the re­spec­tive back­ups.

And at tight end, Vir­gil Green is No. 1, as ex­pected, but his No. 2 is some­what of a sur­prise: Jeff Heuer­man, for whom the Bron­cos have high ex­pec­ta­tions af­ter draft­ing him in third round in 2015. He sits ahead of veteran A.J. Derby, who was ac­quired in a trade with New Eng­land late last sea­son, but Joseph, again, re­it­er­ated the blurred lines with starter des­ig­na­tions on the depth chart.

“That’s a po­si­tion where it’s a weird deal with the depth chart be­cause when you’re in two-tight end (sets), who’s the starter? When you’re in three-tight ends, who’s the starter?” Joseph said. “When you’re in sub with (cor­ner­back Bradley) Roby, is he a starter or not? It’s sit­u­a­tional foot­ball and part of our pack­age. Tight end-wise, they’re all starters.”

The de­fen­sive depth chart of- fers fewer sur­prises. Derek Wolfe, Do­mata Peko and Jared Crick make up the first-team de­fen­sive line. With mul­ti­ple in­juries to the Bron­cos’ pass rush­ers (wrist for Shane Ray and hip for Shaquil Bar­rett), rookie DeMar­cus Walker is Von Miller‘s backup on the edge.

The Bron­cos drafted Walker in the sec­ond round with the in­tent of us­ing him on both the line and on the edge. In re­cent prac­tices, he has worked with the out­side lineback­ers to com­pen­sate for in­juries.

“I don’t want to say too much, but I think that he’s do­ing well out there,” Joseph said Sat­ur­day. “It fits him a lit­tle bit bet­ter, I think.”

The Bron­cos have also put an em­pha­sis on find­ing a fourth cor­ner­back, be­hind Chris Har­ris, Aqib Talib and Roby. Rookie Bren­dan Lan­g­ley is cur­rently that guy, ahead of Lorenzo Doss at right cor­ner­back. But that could change.

“I will say this about the depth chart: It’s a start­ing point,” Joseph said. “Those two guys are com­pet­ing for that fourth cor­ner spot, which is a big deal for our foot­ball team. They’re one snap from be­ing a starter on sub. What went into that — the spring drills, the train­ing camp prac­tices thus far — that’s what’s de­ter­mined (Lan­g­ley) is ahead of (Doss) right now. But Doss has played re­ally well. He’s made a lot of plays, and Lan­g­ley has a long way to go as far as learn­ing what to do as an NFL cor­ner. So it’s open.”

While the pre­lim­i­nary depth chart sheds some light on the new coach­ing staff’s view of its per­son­nel, many po­si­tions are far from so­lid­i­fied.

“The fi­nal depth chart that will be out against the Charg­ers (for the reg­u­lar-sea­son opener), that’s the one that re­ally mat­ters,” Joseph said. “The rest, it’s a depth chart. Some­one has to go first, sec­ond and third.”

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Bron­cos quar­ter­backs Trevor Siemian, right, and Pax­ton Lynch chat with quar­ter­backs coach Bill Mus­grave.

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