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Horse Tracks: Paxton Lynch says mentally he’s ‘taken a step forward’

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The second-year QB is preparing to be the backup this week.

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It was an interesting Wednesday for Broncos QBs. Current starting quarterback Brock Osweiler was limited in practice, with what is either a chest or shoulder injury depending on which tweet you prefer. He was playing for his job in Philadelphia, and apparently did well enough to stave off at least one competitor: Paxton Lynch is taking the 2nd string practice reps this week, which means Trevor Siemian is playing 3rd string.

Not only did Lynch get to step up to the 2nd unit in practice, but Osweiler’s limited participation in Wednesday’s session meant that the 2nd year signal caller also received some reps with the 1st string offense. For the moment, signs seem to be pointing toward the Broncos rolling with some mixture of Osweiler and Lynch at QB for the remainder of The Lost Season.

With more high profile practice reps going his way, Lynch found himself dealing with renewed media attention as well. And in uniquely Broncos Country fashion:

Of course, there’s pretty clearly some spin coming through from the team’s PR department there as well. Patrick Smyth & his public relations minions do their jobs relentlessly.

But it is the first notable contact Paxton Lynch has had with the media for a while, so let’s go ahead and unpack it. From the Broncos’ post-presser release:

Lynch fielded several questions about his health and how he feels physically after having presumably recovered from his preseason shoulder injury:

“I feel good. I know that the training staff is monitoring and coaches are monitoring me, so I think they’re watching how I practice and throw the ball. Then they’re evaluating from there. I feel pretty good.”

“I didn’t know what to expect because I never had that injury before. It was really just up to the trainers. I think they did a really good job with me kind of easing me into it at first and taking a break and rehabbing it. Then just sticking to the plan of progressively getting stronger. I think they did a good job at that.”

You’d hope that he feels good by now, having had almost three months to recover from an injury that was originally reported to be a “couple of weeks” sort of issue. But, hey. It’s his throwing shoulder. Perhaps that’s a tricky rehab or something.

Reporters also questioned him about sitting and watching from the bench for a large portion of the season:

“It’s been tough, obviously, you want to play. I love this sport and I love playing football. I want to play regardless of the situation, but I think the guys have done a good job and they’re going to continue to push forward. We all are.”

A very polite and canned response here. If there’s one thing the offense hasn’t done, it’s do a good job. Hopefully he really is completely dedicated to his sport and to playing his position. If he is, we’ll hopefully see it in a few weeks.

Some of his more interesting comments had to do with his rehab process and the important role that learning the playbook played during that time:

“A lot. That was kind of a big emphasis with the coaches and myself since I couldn’t be out there practicing. While I was in the training room watching from the inside out, it was just a big emphasis for me being on my iPad the whole time since I couldn’t be out there getting the reps. I feel like mentally I’ve taken a step forward.”

“Just knowing your playbook. Obviously, it’s way different than being out there, getting the reps, pointing out Mike’s and picking up blitzes and alerting plays. It’s way different that way. Being in my playbook and what we’re doing on our side of the ball, as well as watching opponent film, I’ve also been asking questions about how Brock prepares and following those footsteps because how he prepares is very professional.”

Now here’s something to keep an eye out for. The playbook under Trevor Siemian appeared to be pretty limited at times, but likely more as a result of Siemian’s physical limitations- at least at first. Things got even more prescribed as Siemian’s confidence and consistency dwindled. It’s different under Brock, but still not a full NFL playbook.

Could it be a full NFL playbook with Lynch under center? Not likely. At all. He came in very raw last year and hasn’t had anything like optimal practice time in this new offense... or even adequate practice time, really. But it’s less important for him to know every facet of the playbook than it is for him to show the team and fans on the field of play that he has mastery of the parts he has learned and can execute them reliably.

And of course there were questions about the practice time promotion and the possibility of Lynch seeing the field sometime soon:

“I was excited about it, but like I said, I’d just been focusing on myself and worrying about how I can make myself better day in and day out. I’m pleased with how I’ve progressed mentally and physically up until this point. I’m excited for the opportunity whenever it presents itself.”

“Obviously, if you ask me if I can play, I’m going to say yes. I would have said that right when I got hurt. But, I talked to the trainers and the coaches, and like I said, they’ve done a good job so far and I feel great. I’m just going to continue to leave it up to them.”

We’ll see where this goes. There’s good reason to be skeptical of this Broncos coaching staff, both in regard to the competency with which they’re approaching decisions at quarterback and also in regard to the degree of accuracy and honesty they’re engaging in when interacting with the media and fans.

But one thing is pretty much certain: at this point, there’s almost no way for the Broncos to be worse off by putting Lynch out there on the field. The season is lost, even if the team isn’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention yet. Any playing time Lynch gets will give him vital experience and will also teach the coaches and front office more about whether or not he’s ready to be the QB in 2018, whether he’s still not there yet, or whether he’s even a guy who can be a legitimate NFL quarterback at all. From there, they’ll have great insight into the urgency with which the position needs to be addressed this offseason.

If the Broncos play Paxton Lynch, as they should, they’ll learn all of that and more, and profit by the knowledge. If they don’t, then we go into 2018 with a 3rd year 1st-rounder who is a nearly complete unknown and major questions about what other moves should be considered at QB. In my book, the correct decision should be pretty freaking obvious here.

Poll

When should Paxton Lynch get to start for the Broncos?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    This week against the Bengals!
    (540 votes)
  • 26%
    In a few weeks- once he’s had more practice time.
    (266 votes)
  • 12%
    Only when the team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
    (126 votes)
  • 0%
    2018 at the earliest.
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    Never.
    (52 votes)
992 votes total Vote Now

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