Shuf­fling sig­nal-call­ers

Bron­cos’ El­way says he might still seek a vet­eran backup quar­ter­back

The Western Star - - SPORTS - BY ARNIE STA­PLE­TON BASEBALL

The Den­ver Bron­cos might not be done shuf­fling backup quar­ter­backs.

Gen­eral man­ager John El­way said Tues­day that he might still sign a vet­eran to back up start­ing QB Case Keenum if he doesn’t feel Chad Kelly can win games in a pinch.

“I’m not go­ing to tell you we’re def­i­nitely go­ing to stand pat, but I’m not telling you we’re go­ing (in) that di­rec­tion, ei­ther,” El­way told 103.5 The Fox ra­dio sta­tion in Den­ver.

The Bron­cos pro­moted Kelly over former first-round pick Pax­ton Lynch this week fol­low­ing their con­trast­ing per­for­mances in train­ing camp and in the pre­sea­son opener last week­end, when Lynch threw for just 24 yards over seven series with the sec­ond string. Kelly had a pair of touch­downs in mop-up duty against the Min­nesota Vik­ings.

“We’ve got to have con­fi­dence that that guy that’s go­ing to be the backup can play and win foot­ball games,” El­way said. “And so that’s why we’re still in that process of try­ing to see if we’ve got that guy be­hind Case.

“Even though Chad played very well on Satur­day night we’ll see how he does this week - but if some­thing were to hap­pen to Case, can he come in and con­tinue to win foot­ball games for us?” El­way said. “That’s the big part of the eval­u­a­tion process and that’s still go­ing on.”

Kelly will get plenty of work with the sec­ond stringers as the Bron­cos host the Chicago Bears for joint prac­tices Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day be­fore their pre­sea­son game Satur­day night in Den­ver.

Kelly, whose un­cle in NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, threw for 97 touch­downs and 29 in­ter­cep­tions dur­ing a col­le­giate ca­reer that be­gan at Clem­son (2012-13), con­tin­ued at East Mis­sis­sippi Ju­nior Col­lege (2014) and fin­ished at Ole Miss (2015-16).

El­way se­lected him with the fi­nal pick of the 2017 NFL draft, but Kelly missed his rookie sea­son while re­cov­er­ing from wrist and knee in­juries, watch­ing as the Bron­cos rolled through quar­ter­backs Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Lynch dur­ing a 5-11 sea­son.

Osweiler wasn’t re-signed in the off-sea­son and Siemian was traded af­ter Keenum’s ar­rival in March, when El­way de­clared the backup job up for grabs.

Kelly had a solid off-sea­son and con­sis­tently out­played Lynch, the former Mem­phis QB whom El­way moved up to draft in the first round in 2016 fol­low­ing Pey­ton Man­ning’s re­tire­ment.

Kelly com­pleted 14 of 21 passes for 177 yards, two TDs and an in­ter­cep­tion against the Vik­ings while the crowd ser­e­naded him with chants of “Kelly! Kelly!”

“He’s had a great camp, he’s a com­pet­i­tive guy, he comes out and he works hard. He wants to be good,” El­way said. “And so, he’s the type of guy that you love to have on your foot­ball team. So, he did a great job the other night and we’ll see how he does this week.”

Coach Vance Joseph said Tues­day that Lynch was mad and miffed over the switch.

AP PHOTO

Den­ver Bron­cos quar­ter­back Case Keenum takes part in train­ing camp drills Tues­day in En­gle­wood, Colo.

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