As the Broncos head into their second day of a joint practice with the Niners, coach Gary Kubiak will key in on the quarterbacks (as if he hasn't been the last three months) to likely name a starter for Saturday's game against the Bay Area team.
Lynch may not be in the starter conversation much at this point, but the rookie's development over a few weeks of training camp has certainly gotten noticed, and he's possibly more of a contender for starter down the road if the trend continues.
Paxton Lynch with a lovely pass to John Phillips down the right seam ... tight coverage, whistled the ball in well.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 18, 2016
"He's a goofy dude and an unbelievable, huge, physical, fast athlete with a big arm," Pelissero said, adding "it's way less important" who the quarterback is in Week 1 than in Week 17. "And I would not be surprised at all if it's a different guy, because Kubiak showed last year that he's not afraid to do the hard thing."
Referring, of course, to Kubiak pulling Peyton Manning in Week 11 last season and then later pulling Brock Osweiler in Week 17 just before the playoffs, Pelissero sees the coach as bold enough to change anything if he thinks a player can do better than the one in there - no matter how well the starter is doing.
Since Lynch has a lot of catching up to do to play in the pro ranks, Pelissero thinks that is possibly the only thing keeping the rookie out of the conversation right now.
"When you have a quarterback coming out of a very simplistic system, simple play call, he has a lot to learn in terms of the verbiage, the processing, what he's looking at," Pelissero said, acknowledging he has limited training camp view. "Is [Lynch] going to be ready Week 1? Probably not. But is he ready Week 8, Week 12, somewhere down the line? I think that's going to be a constant evaluation. And again, they showed a year ago, they're not afraid to carry that all the way through and make a change."
Whenever Lynch plays and whenever he may start is not the main thing on Lynch's mind right now. But the rookie is certainly happy to keep getting the playing time and feeling comfortable as a pro.
"I know that when I first got out here, [the game] was spinning and it was moving so fast for me, but it's getting to the point where I can hear the play call and slow it down a little bit and get in the huddle and move past some things quicker," Lynch said after practice Wednesday. "That's one thing that I've kind of started to learn, just to trust my instincts."
Lynch said he is definitely finding his rhythm on the field and feeling more confident in his decision-making.
"Like I did in college, if I felt the pocket break down, then I wasn't hesitant to get out on the run and try to make a play that way outside of the pocket," he said. "Kubiak doesn't mind me getting out of the pocket and making a play as long as I keep my eyes up and make a good one."
.@PaxtonLynch debuted with a 6/7 (C/ATT) showing.— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 12, 2016
Not bad, rookie. https://t.co/AP7nz2yAQh
Making good decisions consistently is probably the biggest deciding factor for choosing Saturday's starter, which is why Kubiak told the media yesterday that today he "would be working on that."
And if you're making bets on that starter, there are a lot of ways to go as both Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian have been showing Kubiak good things this week.
"I thought they did a really good job. It's good for them to see different stuff," Kubiak said.
The coach highlighted that rookie Paxton Lynch showed "some really good stuff" while Sanchez made a great play at the end of the two-minute drill and Siemian made a great throw in the same drill.
"We got to make the plays, so it's a good competition," Kubiak said, adding that the two frontrunners - Sanchez and Siemian - are becoming really good players. "It's a tough decision for us, but that's a good thing because they're doing their job."
Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison reiterated the main thing they've been harping on within the quarterback competition is consistency as they add more from the playbook.
"Especially in weeks like this week, when you're going against somebody else, you get to go back and do some things that we can't do against our defense," Dennison said. "[The quarterbacks] did a good job as far as understanding what we are trying to get done and being consistent."
Game reps weren't hard to come by for all three #Broncos QBs today vs. the @49ers— Broncos TV (@BroncosTV) August 18, 2016
All three quarterbacks were happy to be going against a new defense - one not nearly as strong as their own - and it showed with a lot of big plays and a bunch of scores.
"Our guys know a lot about what we are doing - our code words, routes and concepts, so especially when you play against good guys like we have, in [Aqib] Talib, [Bradley] Roby, Chris Harris and Kayvon [Webster], they are hunting our routes," Sanchez said. "They know exactly when that ball is supposed to be out. It's a refreshing day to go against somebody else."
But the veteran of the QB group was quick to take that success with a grain of salt.
"I thought we responded well, but it's only the first day," he said. "We have them tomorrow and Saturday. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to keep building on the positives and fixing some of those negatives."
Siemian, who may get the nod to start Saturday if no other reason than trying him out, also enjoyed the new faces on the other side of the ball. But he attributed his better success to also just adding more reps with the receivers.
"It's obviously really competitive here with the ‘Niners in today, which was fun, but just taking it day-by-day," Siemian said. "There's a certain comfort level, whether it's the first group or it's the second group, you're with the same guys. I think that helps. ... You're just getting a feel for those guys and I think that's just a product of more reps and getting on the same page."
Sanchez - who's made some beautiful throws while also having some saved by great receivers - also acknowledged what a treasure trove of wide-out talent the Broncos QBs have.
"We are lucky ... they sure help us out and catch some throws that are tough to catch," he said. "In tight windows, they are not afraid to give us their body and make a play for the team. All that bodes well for a quarterback. We are all very thankful."
Denver #Broncos CB Chris Harris Jr on Rooke QB Paxton Lynch "Paxton has the best arm and the best upside of all the Broncos quarterbacks."— NFL Draft Insider (@NFLDraftInsider) August 16, 2016
And despite reporters' best attempts to pit the current "co-starters" against each other, Sanchez and Siemian are too professional to bite (figuratively and literally, I assume) - and both jumped at the chance to give the other props.
"I've always rooted for my teammates. I think that's the most important thing," Sanchez said. "The team winning is good for everyone, no matter what the depth chart looks like. It bodes well for everybody on the roster and everybody in the building."
Siemian said the same - after joking that he figured the three QBs "would be in fisticuffs."
"No, it's an awesome group," Siemian said, adding that QB coach Greg Knapp has done a great job "leading the circus," so to speak. "It's been fun and I think everybody is helping each other out. It's a good group to be a part of and I'm happy to be a part of it."
The most important thing, Sanchez pointed out, is being a team guy first - and the eight-year vet is "right where he wants to be" in the competition.
"I think we are rooting for each other, to be honest. The best guy will play. You just have to keep putting your best foot forward and making good throws and good decisions. As soon as I go out, I'm rooting for Trevor, especially on a day like today where you get to play somebody else. And we're both rooting for [Paxton] when we are both out. That's the kind of relationship you want."
The rookie agrees.
"It's definitely a healthy competition, in my opinion. We're all rooting for each other, but we're also pushing each other at the same time," Lynch said. "Mark and Trevor are good guys ...They give me advice every now and again when they can and when the opportunity presents itself. If I ever had any questions about anything or if I have a bad practice, they're there to help me and pick me up."