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Vance Joseph: Paxton Lynch will play when 'healthy enough'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos want to see Paxton Lynch play before the season is done, and they're willing to wait a little longer to see if that will be Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Coach Vance Joseph said after Thursday's practice that the Broncos' choice at starting quarterback either against the Redskins or on New Year's Eve against the Kansas City Chiefs might simply boil down to Lynch's injured ankle.

"I'll say this: Our goal is to see him play before the year is out. We've got two more games," Joseph said. "My concern is: Is he healthy enough to play at a high level? He's got an ankle injury. He hasn't practiced in three weeks. He's a quarterback who can use his legs when he's in danger. I want to make sure he's right. ... That's the issue, that's why we're taking our time trying to figure out if he can play."

Joseph didn't name a starter Thursday, and the Broncos split the work with the first-team offense between Brock Osweiler and Lynch, as they had done Wednesday. Lynch was limited both Wednesday and Thursday with the injury he suffered Nov. 26 against the Oakland Raiders.

Wednesday was Lynch's first practice since suffering the injury. His 33 snaps against the Raiders were also the only time he has played this season after a preseason shoulder injury cost him the first half of the regular season.

Osweiler came into last Thursday night's win over the Indianapolis Colts in relief of an injured Trevor Siemian. He finished 12-of-17 passing for 194 yards and two touchdowns, and he had an 18-yard rushing score. Several of his teammates have since said they responded to Osweiler's emotion and appreciated his preparation for a game he did not start.

But the Broncos also have an enormous question to answer at quarterback in the coming offseason and feel they must see Lynch, the team's first-round pick in 2016, play more in games. Lynch, who lost back-to-back training camp battles with Siemian, started two games last season to go with his one start this year.

"Yes, Brock played very well ... it's a different decision when it comes to quarterback," Joseph said. "It's about winning, absolutely, but it's also about figuring out our future at the position. It's a fine line between ignoring those things. Brock played well, we won the game, we want to win the game on Sunday. That's going to factor into also, but we also have to consider this football team's future at quarterback -- that's fair for all of us."

The Broncos have had three starters at quarterback this season, so to be splitting practice plays between two of them in Week 16 is another example of how unsettled things have been at the position. Joseph said there is no way to make up the loss of chemistry from not being able to give one quarterback the majority of the work with the starting offense.

"You kind of don't," Joseph said. "That's why most teams don't do it. It's not ideal to play three guys at quarterback, have three different starters, that's not what you want to do. But that's where we're at. ... We're going to play the hand we're dealt and make the best of it.

"It is what it is."