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Chad Kelly will get a chance to compete for the backup quarterback position

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Look out Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly is coming after your job.

NFL: Denver Broncos Rookie Minicamp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When John Elway noted that there would be competition for the backup quarterback position, he sent a powerful message to Paxton Lynch and especially Chad Kelly. That message was that it would be a merit-based spot on the depth chart and not based on draft position.

“At the end of the day, I thought of it as, ‘OK, perfect,” Kelly said of Elway’s comments. “Now I can get more reps.’ That is what it’s about: Being consistent in what you do, being athletic in what you do and going out there and competing, whether it is individual drills or in a team activity. I just look at it as another opportunity to get better each and every day and each and every rep.”

Kelly’s work ethic draws a stark contrast to the often reported lack of work ethic of Paxton Lynch. If both are not being exaggerated, then there is a very good chance Chad Kelly will ultimately win that backup job.

“I’m just trying to get better every rep,” Kelly added. “To come out here for rookie camp and being the only quarterback out here, to get all of these reps, whether it is throwing routes, running team period or working with coaches in individual, that is how you get better. To be consistent and repeat everything that you’re doing—being out of the game for a year and a half, there hasn’t been any consistency in what I’ve been doing. I’ve got to get back to doing that, feeling like myself and going out there and competing at a high level.”

Another area where Lynch has reportedly struggled through his first two seasons has been on the mental side of things. From memorizing the playbook to reading defenses, the NFL hasn’t been kind of Lynch. For Kelly, it has been a little easier, albeit in shorts. He talks a good game, but it looks like we’ll finally get a chance this year to see what he can do in pads in a preseason game. And that’s exciting.

“You’ve got to go out there, be fast, think fast and do it at a high level,” Kelly said of the mental side of the game. “To go out there and know exactly what is going on, know the motions, the routes and the reads, all that stuff plays into the equation. To go out there and do it a high level, but also consistent, whether it is three-deep, four-under or is it [Cover-]two or is it man or is it zone? Whatever it is, you have to know exactly what to do. If a guy to the right of you doesn’t know what he’s doing, you better be able to tell him exactly what he has. You just have to do your 1/11th and help as many people as you can out there, but do your job at a high level.”

He seems to get it, but anyone can talk a good game - just look at Brock Osweiler. The key is to see him for the first time in a Denver Broncos uniform put it all together in a preseason game. That will go a long way in convincing this fan that he has a legitimate shot at unseating Lynch from the number two spot at the position.

His biggest move in that direction may have been showing up to rookie minicamp in the best shape of his life. It was something head coach Vance Joseph noted in his press conference last week.

“I’ve been proud of Chad overall,” Joseph said of Kelly. “He’s been here every day and he’s worked his butt off. You mentioned it, he’s changed his body. Last year he was a little tubby kid. He’s really lean now, he’s eating right, he’s working hard. He’s definitely put the work in and he’s throwing the ball really well right now, so I’m really proud of Chad. He’s obviously here as a [first-year] player. He’s been good for our new guys.”

With Case Keenum as the clear starter for the franchise, Kelly’s opportunity to showcase what he can do in the NFL is huge for him. It’s rare for a franchise to offer a fair shake to a seventh-round draft pick to move past a first-round draft pick on the roster. This would be the second time in three years the Broncos have done it.