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Training Camp Primer: Quarterbacks

Posted Jul 14, 2010

In the weeks leading up to training camp, DenverBroncos.com will take you inside the roster, position-by-position. First up in the eight-part series: quarterbacks.

Editor's Note: In the weeks leading up to training camp, DenverBroncos.com will take you inside the roster, position-by-position. First up in the eight-part series: quarterbacks.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The moves that landed quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow in Denver shined a white-hot media spotlight directly on Dove Valley. Almost every sports journalist from Colorado to Canada splashed ink speculating on who would start for the Broncos in 2010.

Kyle Orton didn't sweat under that spotlight and he didn't bristle at the moves the team made to increase competition at his position. When Head Coach Josh McDaniels phoned Orton to inform him Quinn would be coming to town in March, Orton replied like an established starter.

"I told (McDaniels) I've never backed down from competition, and it really won't change my mindset going into the season at all," Orton said. "The only way I keep my job is to perform and win games, and I plan on doing that."

Orton's confidence stems from last season's performance. The quarterback rewrote his own record book in his first year in McDaniels' scheme.

He connected on 336 of 541 attempts for a 62.1 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns and an 86.8 passer rating -- all career highs -- and matched a career best with 12 interceptions.  Orton's 3,802 passing yards were the highest total of any Broncos signal-caller in his first year with the club, and the 10 games he posted with a passer rating of at least 90 matched John Elway's team-record total from 1997.

Orton's confidence continues to flourish with a knowledge of the offense that only a year in the system can bring. Quinn hasn't yet played a game for the Broncos, but he's also ahead of the curve in terms of the playbook.

Four years under McDaniels' former colleague Charlie Weis at Notre Dame familiarized Quinn with a significant amount of the two coaches' shared football philosophies. Three years of coaching turnaround on the Browns forced Quinn to absorb a bevy of varying offensive schemes, but in Denver Quinn's hearing familiar phrases from his Golden Domer days.

"I think obviously the connection there is that anytime you get a player that knows -- I don't know what percentage, but let's just say 80 percent of your terminology -- that obviously is going to give him a little bit of an edge in terms of catching up," McDaniels said.

Quinn will look to carry over the late-season success he had with the Browns in 2009. In a late November contest in Detroit Quinn hurled four touchdown passes and racked up a career-best 304 passing yards. Two weeks later he took on the Chargers in Cleveland and completed a career-high 25 passes for 271 yards and three scores.

The famous rookie from Florida rounds out the quarterback competition.

Tebow put together a college pedigree like no other before him. Highlighting his resume are two NCAA national championships, one Heisman trophy, two consecutive Maxwell awards from 2007-2008 and an NCAA-record 170.8 rating for career passing efficiency. He also holds the SEC records for 12,232 yards of total offense, 145 total touchdowns and 57 rushing touchdowns -- eight more than Herschel Walker.

At Florida, Tebow showed he was as effective with his feet as his arm, and McDaniels said that part of Tebow's game could be incorporated into his offensive role should he enter the game.

"If he can do something out of the pocket and he deserves to be on the field -- that's the biggest thing -- then maybe that would warrant us doing some other things," the head coach said.

The NFL sold more No. 15 Tebow jerseys online than any other player for the month of June, but Tebow is working to actually don the jersey on the field. For now, the rookie is doing everything he can just to pick up the offense and adapt to the speed of the pro game.

McDaniels said there's "no question" Orton is the starter, but there will always be competition on an NFL squad, even for the QB spot.

"The starter is the starter until somebody beats him out -- everybody earns their own role," McDaniels said. "The best player will play. It doesn't matter if it's a defensive end, punter, quarterback, center -- if he's the best player, he's playing."

As training camp progresses, a country of NFL fans will have their eyes on Dove Valley to see where the three QBs land on the depth chart.