ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — We are no longer in training camp, folks.
On Tuesday, Vance Joseph switched things up from the norm, moving out of a training-camp setting and into a game-preparation setting with the Chicago Bears on the docket on Thursday.
Traditionally, a team wouldn't deviate from their usual training camp setup for the first preseason game, but Joseph emphasized the fact that he wants to give his team every chance to show out on Thursday night.
"If you want the guys to play their best on Thursday, you can't put them out there without having a game plan, some sort of game plan. I want to give them a chance to play well... When you give the guys one day to prepare, I don't believe in that. I want to gove them a chance to play their best football. Having a chance to see Chicago schemes two days (before the game) will help the guys play better. It will give them a chance to put their best foot forward, and not let guys go out there and be surprised by something they've never seen and not play well."
Game-preparation mode meant the quarterbacks got to work against the scout-team defense, a nice break for them because, as Trevor Siemian stated on the day, "Golly, it sure is a pain in the butt to face Chris [Harris Jr.], [Aqib] Talib and those guys."
Here's what we saw.
Siemian nearly perfect
See the man, hit the man. That's about as simple as Trevor Siemian made playing quarterback look on Tuesday morning. In eight dropbacks between 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work, the ball only hit the ground once, a drop off the hands of Jeff Heuerman on a 15-yard cross. It's like he had a perfect game going, but the catcher made an error, so it was only a no-hitter.
Metaphors aside, Siemian was sharp. He started the day with some easy completions in the flat during the 7-on-7 period before transitioning into 11-on-11 red-zone work. In the red-zone period, Siemian dropped back twice and threw two touchdowns, one in the middle of the end zone to Emmanuel Sanders and one nicely floated ball to the back left corner hauled in by A.J. Derby, who was running along the back of the end zone.
In his final drill of the day, Siemian once again led the first team in a perfect series. This time, the drill was focused on third downs. To start the drill, Siemian found Emmanuel Sanders who was wide open in the flat on a rub route to convert 3rd-and-6. On the next play, another 3rd-and-medium, Siemian found Jordan Taylor on a short cross to once again convert. Finally, on his last play of the day, Siemian was put into a 3rd-and-12 situation where he found Bennie Fowler on an out route just short of the sticks, but Fowler had plenty of room on the sideline to turn up and convert.
Overall, after the heavy lifting that is facing the "No Fly Zone" all camp, Siemian made the light workout that is facing the scout team look as easy as he should have.
Lynch also on point
As good as Siemian looked, Lynch looked almost as sharp. The second-year quarterback spent most of his day working with the second team against the same scout-team defense as Siemian. Lynch also appeared to get some scout-team offense reps—presumably because he is tall, and so is Mike Glennon—but we did not grade those snaps considering he was not running the Broncos' offense.
Lynch started his day on a high note, finding Jeff Heuerman for 15 yards on a flag route in 7-on-7. He followed that up with a 10-yard slant to Cody Latimer and threw another nice ball on his third rep, a deep out to Marlon Brown who was just barely pulled out of bounds by the throw.
In his first series of team reps, Lynch had his best sequence of the day. From 30 yards out, Paxton found Derby for 20 yards on a flag. On the next play, the former first-rounder found Latimer once again on a short slant for the TD. On the final play of the set, Lynch rolled right and tossed a short pass to De'Angelo Henderson who may have found his way into the end zone in a live situation but was blown down as a group of defenders surrounded him near the goal line.
Lynch finished his day the same way Siemian did, practicing third-down situations. He started with a 3rd-and-medium and found Jordan Taylor on the left side for a first down. On the next play, another 3rd-and-medium, Lynch threw late and behind Kalif Raymond, who was unable to haul it in. After that, Lynch faced 3rd-and-long and tossed a nicely-thrown ball to Marlon Brown for a chunk of around 20 and finally on his last play, another 3rd-and-long, Lynch missed his man across the middle with a low throw to finish the day.
Play of the day
If we are being fair to all quarterbacks, Kyle Sloter had the play of the day, a 40-yard dime up the right sideline that landed in the hands of Hunter Sharp.
If we are only counting the two QBs in the race, Siemian's ball to A.J. Derby in the back left corner of the end zone was the best toss of the practice.
While both quarterbacks shined against lesser competition, neither taking any sacks or throwing any interceptions while boasting a very high completion rate, Siemian was just a bit better on the day. The incumbent starter was perfect in 11-on-11 work, beat Lynch in touchdowns (2-1) and converted every one of his third-down opportunities.