ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —Before the Broncos had even started running drills, Paxton Lynch was already dropping it in the bucket… literally.
Lynch was throwing passes 50-yards downfield towards a trash can that had been set up in the far corner of the end zone. He dropped at least one ball in, prompting a raucous ovation from the crowd. No other quarterback got close.
His hot start was just a precursor of what was to come from the rookie first-round pick today, day No. 4 of Denver Broncos’ training camp.
Paxton Comes to Play
Sunday was unquestionably Lynch’s best day of camp. He completed several deep passes, including dimes to Kalif Raymond on a go pattern, Mose Frazier on an out and up, and Durron Neal on a fade. Head coach Gary Kubiak said he was impressed with Lynch’s play.
“He’s just getting better every day,” Kubiak said. “Every day we’re out here he tends to make some big plays and do some good things, and he struggles at times. We’re just seeing a guy getting more and more confident. His talent is showing up every day and he keeps getting better.”
Lynch is still struggling with some of the intricacies of running an NFL offense, but he seems perfectly at home when he’s allowed to sit back and launch the football around the yard. Lynch’s natural arm talent and mobility set him apart among the rest of the Broncos’ quarterback group.
“He’s got a big arm,” offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. “He’s an athletic guy. I think it’s unusual to see somebody that big run that well, and he runs pretty well and he can handle all we’re doing. It’s just a matter of teaching him everything and making sure he grasps every concept that we’re trying to get to, and he’s coming along.”
His deep-ball accuracy set him apart from the rest of the quarterback group, but he wasn’t the only one of Denver’s three passers who practiced well.
Veteran Mark Sanchez struggled early in the day. He was intercepted by rookie Antonio Glover on a poorly thrown in-route. However, as the day progressed, Sanchez improved dramatically. By the end of practice, he had completed several passes in a row and looked once again like the leader in the Broncos’ ongoing quarterback competition.
Trevor Siemian has become somewhat of a non-story through training camp. His development seems to have plateaued. He’s yet to flash Lynch’s talent, or show Sanchez’s leadership ability. If he is going to get a shot at winning this job, he’ll have to eventually show one of either.
Veterans Get Day Off
For the first day in camp some Broncos veterans got a chance to take a day off. T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart, Matt Paradis, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Derek Wolfe, Virgil Greene, and Brandon Marshall watched from the sideline as their less experienced counterparts got reps.
Kubiak still expects those players to be a part of practice, even if they aren’t actually practicing.
“They are still involved mentally with the players,” Kubiak said. “That’s what I really like. You see our guys rooting for each other and coaching each other. I’m resting those guys. They’ve got a lot of plays under their belt in their career. I know where I have to get them. The biggest point of emphasis is to get the team better from a young standpoint and that’s what we did today.”
Finally a Full House
The sun-scorched knoll on the far side of the UC Health Training Center was full for the first time all camp. 4,741 fans watched practice, by far the largest crowd of training camp and almost twice Saturday’s reported attendance.
Whether the Broncos’ attendance difficulties are connected to the lack of star power at quarterback, or a so-called “Super Bowl Hangover” is up for debate.
Brenner Goes Down
There was one scary moment during Sunday’s practice session. Offensive lineman Sam Brenner was knocked out for at least a minute during the 11-on-11 practice. The cart had to be brought out to take him to the locker room and coaches had to prop him up as he stumbled his way into the building. After practice, Kubiak said Brenner was being evaluated for a concussion.
“It is scary,” Kubiak said. “He got caught in a pile and went down face first. That’s what I saw. He was talking to me and ‘Greek’ [head trainer Steve Antonopulos] the whole time. We’ll evaluate him.”
Miller Looking Sharp
Despite sitting out for all of mini-camp and OTAs, Von Miller is still Von Miller. He has improved each day of camp and looks to be about three or four days away from fully participating.
At one point during practice Miller wrecked back-to-back plays, toying with any offensive lineman who tried to get in his way.
“I know he looked like he wore a couple people out,” Kubiak said. “We put a tackle at tight end to try to make it an even match, but it still didn’t work out. He looks good.”
Training camp will continue from the UC Health Training Center Monday at 9:30 AM. Practice is free and open to the public.