Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch given no easy outs as Broncos' QB race looms

Lindsay H. Jones
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Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) throws a pass during minicamp at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colo.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Vance Joseph continues to insist he’s not yet keeping score in this quarterback battle between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. But if the Denver Broncos' new coach is going to take anything from offseason work, and especially what the two quarterbacks do during minicamp, it might be how both respond to practicing against one of the NFL’s best defenses.

These spring practices aren’t set up to be fair or easy for the Broncos’ young quarterbacks.

Siemian, a seventh-round pick in 2015 who started 14 games last year, and Lynch, the 2016 first-round pick who spent last year as the backup, are  young and inexperienced players in the middle of learning a new offense. Much of their time in voluntary practices and at minicamp has been spent on installing new plays under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.


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Across from them is a veteran defense that features three all-pros in outside linebacker Von Miller and cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, as well as a host of other established veterans who have no interest in taking it easy on a couple of young passers.

The setup has led to some ugly moments for both quarterbacks.  Tuesday, Siemian stumbled and rolled to the grass once the defense brought a blitz on a first-down play in team drills. And Lynch threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by reserve cornerback Taurean Nixon.

For now, Joseph said he’s not so concerned about the mistakes, but he’s watching the way each of the quarterbacks handles the pressure the defense is bringing and how they respond to their errors.

“That’s very, very important,” Joseph said Tuesday after the first session of a three-day mandatory minicamp. “After a bad play, how do we correct that play and make it into a positive play the next play? That’s critical playing that position. You’re going to make some bad plays, but how do you bounce back from those plays?”

Both quarterbacks said they appreciate the work they’re getting against Denver’s defense, thinking that no matter which player wins the job, facing Miller’s pass rush and Talib’s coverage will prove beneficial come fall, even if it makes these June practices extra difficult.

“You feel those guys breathing down your neck almost every rep,” Siemian said. “It’s good work for our offensive line, and for us getting a feel for moving around when we have to. We’re buying time and working snap counts, which you have to do against this group or else they’ll eat you alive. It’s great practice for us and everybody else.”

The two quarterbacks will equally split first-team snaps over the final two days of this minicamp before heading off for a five-week break. Siemian said there are plans in the works to get together with Denver’s receivers to throw, and Lynch said he plans to spend time with his private coach in Florida. Both quarterbacks plan to study, because neither can afford to fall behind mentally before the competition truly begins at the start of training camp in late July.

Joseph said “zero to none” of what has happened on the field in May and June will ultimately go into the decision on whether to start Siemian or Lynch. That’s a battle that could be decided in early August or could wait until the end of the preseason, but it won’t happen until Joseph has seen both quarterbacks in live action.

“When I see a clear separation, I’ll call it off,” Joseph said.

Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.

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