With the quarterback depth chart established, Denver Broncos rookie Paxton Lynch will be getting increased snaps, even without being named the starter. Lynch’s increased opportunities will begin on Thursday, where he's expected to start and play the entire fourth preseason game.
“I’m really excited,” said the rookie quarterback. “I’ve been coming into the second half for all of the other games so I’ve kind of been sitting around and it takes me a while to get going. It’s going to feel good getting warmed up and being able to go out there and play right away.”
Lynch is also getting increased snaps as a scout team quarterback, a role his head coach thinks will help accelerate his development.
“Yes, no doubt. It makes you play fast,” said Gary Kubiak. “One of the things during the preseason with Trevor [Siemian] that I was really impressed with, was I don’t think Trevor was sacked one time. That’s not so much us protecting him better than the other guys, that’s is just an internal clock, playing the game fast, getting the ball going and understanding situations. That’s a part that we were really impressed with. That will definitely help Paxton.”
Kubiak often talks about the process, both of players getting better and evaluating positions on the roster. He’s not rushing Lynch into anything because of this, but he’s also not putting any limitations on his prized first-round pick.
“As fast as we can get it. We want to make up as much ground as we possibly can. I’ve been pleased with the progress he’s made,” said the Broncos coach. “I’ll say this: there have been times where I’m saying, ‘Boy this is coming real fast,’ and all of a sudden he’ll remind me two days later, ‘No I’m not, not yet.’ It’s been really good. There have been steps at time where he takes a step back and we have to catch back up. Hopefully we continue to work. We’re going to have to find ways, once we get going, to actually do a lot more extra with him than say some other guys you’re working with. We want to get it done as quickly as we can.”
Lynch’s talent and high-end potential, has been noticeable throughout the offseason. With those high-end flashes, have also come some growing pains, as there would be for any rookie.
“I feel really good about how far I’ve come from when I first got here,” said Paxton. “When I first got here, I was kind of spinning all over the place, trying to keep up. Now, it’s been slowing down to me and each day that I come out here, I just get more and more comfortable.”
Aside from the speed of the game at the NFL level, Lynch has also had to make some significant adjustments coming from a spread offense. Not just scheme and terminology differences, but also footwork, taking the ball from under center and playing less out of the shotgun.
“I’ve done a lot of work on it,” said Lynch about playing under center. “Had training camp and rookie minicamp and OTAs to work on it. I’m feeling pretty comfortable about getting under the center and tying my footwork into my progressions, too, so I’ve come a long way.”
His head coach has also been pleased by the improvement the rookie has shown. Much like a coach should, he also still sees areas in need of improvement.
“I think it’s been good. It’s been about half and half, numbers-wise,” explained Kubiak. “I think he’s improved there. If anything, in the gun, he’s such a big and long guy, he gets too deep with these NFL edges, which he’s not used to. That’s something that we’re really having to improve upon. He’s so long, that when he drops, he ends up about a yard and a half deeper than Mark or Trevor. Those edges get short in the league. We have to work on everything.”
While some of Lynch’s gifts are forcing him to adjust, the rookie’s progress has been undeniable. The Broncos are trying to get him game ready as soon as he can be, something that could give them an unexpected amount of upside and youth at a position, that looked quite bleak just a short while ago.