ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For
After a longer-than-usual offseason -- "My least favorite time of the year," he said Thursday -- the signal caller couldn't wait to get back on the practice field at Dove Valley with his teammates, controlling the line of scrimmage.
"For me, when I can get on the field, that’s all it’s about," he said. "I’m excited to be here and be in the huddle. I think the team is, too.”
The seven-year veteran sits atop the quarterback depth chart a week into training camp, taking all of his reps with the first team.
He said he has been impressed with the sharpness and effort of everyone at the start of camp, especially considering the tumultuous offseason and adjusting to a new coaching staff.
Not that he's surprised he and the receivers are clicking so quickly.
“For most of these guys we’ve been together going on three years," he said. "Certainly, the receiver position is one of the strengths of our football team. They do a great job of getting open. I feel like I’m throwing the ball as good as I have.”
And the receiving corps isn't the only familiar thing about the offense. Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy is back, as are four other coaches on the offensive side of the ball, though two have changed position groups.
That continuity has made it easy for the offense to pick up where it left off after it ranked 13th in the league in 2010, boasting the seventh-ranked passing attack in the NFL.
“There are some changes, but for the most part, scheme-wise and everything, a lot of it’s the same," Orton said. "I think the offense is excited. We did some good things last year. I think some of the changes that we’ve made are going to allow us to improve on some of the things we didn’t do as well."
"If we can improve in some of those areas," Orton said, touching on the run game and protection schemes, "we’re going to be a really tough offense this year.”
While Orton is excited about what the offense can do in 2011, he said he hasn't heard any official word that he's the starting quarterback. And though he is currently working with the first team, Head Coach John Fox said there is competition across the roster.
And with any quarterback competition there comes the accompanying media "circus," but Orton said that hasn't affected the players in the locker room.
“I think it is out there -- it’s not inside the building," he said. "It’s business as usual. Guys have to know how to handle this stuff and Tim (Tebow) knows how to handle this stuff. It’s just the way it is.”
In the meantime, Orton plans to continue to build toward the season with the offense, ready to "lead the team to more wins this year."
“I feel like I’m playing the best football of my career," he said. "All I’ll do is let my play speak for itself.”