ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — All it takes is a blink of an eye for the Broncos’ quarterback battle to take a turn.
During the final week of OTAs, it seemed as if the first-round pick finally “got it,” potentially taking the lead from the incumbent starter Trevor Siemian. Then on Tuesday, in Denver’s first mandatory mini camp practice, the competition came to a near dead heat. On Wednesday, No. 13 took the reigns of the offense and never looked back, even if it was just for one practice.
As often overlooked in Denver, there was still nearly 100 other players either trying to catch the attention of the coaches, solidify their spot on the roster or show the younger players how it’s done.
In the second to last day before the team breaks for summer vacation, the offense and defense turned up the competitiveness level, both getting the best of the other side a number of times. It was the offense, however, that Vance Joseph gave the nod to at the end of the day, saying, “[The offense] had a great day. They scored touchdowns in the red zone, that’s our goal, to score touchdowns in the red zone.”
Here’s exactly how, and when, both units won during the second day of mandatory mini camp.
Siemian strikes back
Much like a great battle in Star Wars, Siemian bounced back from a pedestrian day on Tuesday in a big way. Throughout the day, the offense found success when one quarterback was on the field, and the defense found their success when the other quarterback was on the field. Unfortunately for Paxton Lynch, the latter was true for him.
Lynch started the day on an impressive note with a seven-yard out to Emmanuel Sanders in tight coverage by Chris Harris Jr. After that, however, the day went downhill for the second-year quarterback.
During team periods—11-on-11—Siemian was accurate on every level on the field, while Lynch had troubles connecting with his receivers. In the course of a shorter 7-on-7 period, Siemian and Lynch both found success.
An excellent example of how the day went for the two quarterbacks came at the end of practice during a team period designed to best mimic a real game situation. The goal for the period was for the offense to drive as far as possible against the defense with limited time remaining on the clock.
Lynch led the first-team unit for the period, yet that was no help as he went four-and-out including three incomplete passes — one to Sanders and two to Demaryius Thomas — and one scramble where he only picked up a few yards.
On the other hand, Siemian got the job done, driving down the field including a 40+ yard bomb to Jordan Taylor to put the offense at the three-yard line to end practice.
The differences between each quarterback’s touchdowns were telling as they came in almost opposite fashions as one would expect. While working in the red zone, Lynch connected with Jeff Heuerman from five yards out in the middle of the field. Siemian took his shot to the end zone on his first play of the series finding Cody Latimer from 15 yards out.
Typically, Siemain is the quarterback who finds success on short routes, while Lynch finds success going down the field. However, on Wednesday, nearly everything Siemian did worked, while Lynch struggled.
First-round picks go head-to-head
A day after being promoted to the first-team left tackle for half of the reps, Garett Bolles faced his most difficult challenge of the offseason—going up against Von Miller.
Whether or not it was intentional, defensive coordinator Joe Woods gave the 2017 first-round pick a heavy, and often, dose of Miller.
However, instead of Miller showing up the rookie, Bolles held his own against the Super Bowl 50 MVP. A handful of times, Miller tried to go around Bolles and turn the corner, but Bolles contained, and in fact pushed Miller outside every time.
It wasn’t just an off day for Miller, either. When he went up against Ty Sambrailo, the left tackle that Bolles is rotating with, he had his way with him multiple times, including a strip sack.
Although the starting left tackle job is far from his, Bolles had an impressive second day rotating with the first-team unit, just what the Broncos wanted to see.
Roby highlighting the ‘No Fly Zone’
In a day of ups and downs for the defense, there was one player that was consistently great in the secondary. It wasn’t Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Darian Stewart or T.J. Ward; it was Bradley Roby, the only non-starter in the ‘No Fly Zone.’
Roby was all over the field, consistently breaking up passes thrown by both quarterbacks. What may have been even more impressive was who he was doing it against. As a typical slot corner in Denver’s defense, Roby often faces the third best receiver on opposing teams. However, on Wednesday, he was going head-to-head with Sanders and Thomas on a constant basis.
Entering his fourth-year in the league, the former first-round draft pick has high expectations as the third cornerback in the Broncos defense. On Wednesday, he showed that he’s still getting better.
No. 1 goal for offseason not going as planned
The injury bug has struck the Broncos. Fortunately, it’s been in a small way. However, Joseph is taking no chances. On Wednesday, the injury list doubled from Tuesday’s report, but Joseph said all of the new injuries are small, saying the reason he’s holding players out of practice is “just being smart.”
“We want our guys to leave here healthy so they can go home and train for the next five weeks,” he said after practice Wednesday. “Our main goal for the entire offseason is to remain healthy.”
Joseph said Marshall had a sore Achilles from Tuesday’s practice and Marshall later confirmed to BSN that he’s “fine” and sat out of practice just to be safe. Henderson missed practice due to a sore foot.
Kyle Peko was not at the facility after breaking a bone in his foot in Tuesday’s practice. Joseph confirmed that he had successful surgery Wednesday morning and expects he will be out until early camp.
-Earlier in the day the Broncos cut cornerback Taurean Nixon and added veteran cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris. Joseph said the swap of cornerbacks was to add experience to the fourth or fifth cornerback spot.
-Quarterback Kyle Sloter garnered attention with the third team on Wednesday, finding success early in the day with two touchdowns, but then putting the ball in the defense’s hands a few times to close out practice, including an interception to Lorenzo Doss.