ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- You’ll have to forgive the Denver Broncos’ players if they have more than a little "what, me worry?" attitude about the team’s quarterback competition, especially in April.
It's not their first rodeo. Yes, since Peyton Manning limped off in a Week 9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts during the 2015 season, the Broncos have had a pile of questions about the quarterback trailing behind them -- questions about who would, or wouldn’t, play in the games to come.
And as they move through the second week of their offseason program, the Broncos know the battle between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will dominate the conversation outside of the team complex as they try to handle their business on the inside.
“We’ll see how it all pans out,’’ wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said this week. “It’s crazy, because it feels like every year it’s a question about the quarterback, the quarterback, the quarterback. Every year it’s the same answer. The best guy is going to show. Obviously, we want a guy that can take us all the way to the Super Bowl and get us into the playoffs since we missed that last year. We’re going to see who that guy is.’’
Lather, rinse and repeat with that answer, because the Broncos will be asked the same question again and again in the months to come until coach Vance Joseph announces the team’s starting quarterback.
But the Broncos saw the exact scenario when Manning’s status was a week-to-week decision over the last half of the 2015 season, when Brock Osweiler made seven starts before Manning returned to the lineup in the regular-season finale and stayed there during the run to Super Bowl 50.
Then in training camp last summer, Siemian, Lynch and Mark Sanchez competed for the starting job as former coach Gary Kubiak divided the reps three ways in the early going in training camp.
So Sanders, along with Demaryius Thomas and others, already have stressed that the rest of the Broncos have enough to worry about with their own work without concerning themselves with the decision at quarterback.
“It really doesn’t matter to me, honestly,’’ Sanders said. “It’s about who is going to be the right guy. In due time, we will figure that out. That guy will show up and make the necessary plays. The coaching staff and [executive vice president of football operations/general manager John] Elway and all those guys there will make the decisions. Obviously, I’ve just got to do my job. The ball is going to come. I’ve got to catch it and make plays.’’
And the players have been quick to say it's a win-win situation, because they like what Siemian did in 14 starts last season and they believe in Lynch’s potential. The players also have seen Siemian, in particular, step forward.
Siemian, who had offseason surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, had reserved time at a local complex and arranged to have throwing sessions with the team’s receivers, along with Lynch. But Siemian was not medically cleared in time to go through with the workouts. Sanders has said the group might try to have some workouts in Houston -- Sanders’ offseason home -- after the Broncos adjourn from the offseason program in mid-June and before they report to training camp in late July.
“We thought Trev had a great year last year,’’ cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “He definitely had some ups and downs, but the dude played injured a lot. He took a lot of hits. For him to get back up and do what he did, we see a lot of promise in him. Paxton, it’s going to be a huge year for him to go from Year 1 to Year 2.’’
The Broncos will see the quarterbacks throw next week. The team will conclude the opening phase of its offseason program this week, which is conditioning only. Next week the Broncos can move into the next phase, which can include position work with coaches on the field.
The Broncos will have their first minicamp early next week, an extra set of workouts that is allowed because Joseph is a first-year head coach.
“Obviously, the earlier that we can get clarity, the better, but do we want to rush that process? No,’’ Sanders said of the QB competition. “We don’t want to rush that process. We want to have the right guy. I know those two guys are excited. I’m excited to see, because competition brings out the best in you. We’re going to see who it brings out the best in. It’s going to be pretty cool to see.’’