ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --After six practices and seven days of training camp, no clear leader has emerged in the Broncos' quarterback competition.
"I don't think anybody has taken off and done anything," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think they've all done what they did in the offseason. They all continue to do it. We'll just going here. We'll start playing some people and playing some games. We're going to find out."
Wednesday revealed persistence and resilience. Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch all dealt with a furious pass rush, exacerbated by the loss of the Broncos' top three guards to injuries and the ensuing shuffle of linemen. But they were all able to deliver their best work late after a sluggish start to the two-hour, 15-minute practice.
- "I THINK WE HIT A LITTLE LULL"**
Sometimes teams come back from their first off-day of training camp re-energized. At others, it seems that they hit the snooze button one too many times. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the latter was the case -- so much that Kubiak stopped practice with 50 minutes remaining to get his team to refocus and find its energy.
Penalties were prevalent: pass interference (multiple times), false starts and offsides calls. One first-team snap to Mark Sanchez came too quick, and the play was repeated.
"I think we hit a little lull in practice, really in all three phases," Sanchez said. "We have to take it upon ourselves to make sure we come out with a lot of energy, especially with fresh legs like that."
The next off-day is Sunday. If the Aug. 8 practice is like Wednesday's, then you have a problem.
"Once you get a day off, you relax. It's natural. It happens on every team I feel like -- at least everywhere I've been," Sanchez said. "You just have to fight it, work through it, understand it and learn the lesson.
"Now when we get the next day off, whenever it is, that next day, don't come out like we did today, or we are going to be in trouble."
After a day off, the Broncos returned to practice Wednesday. (photos by Eric Bakke unless otherwise noted)
- SANCHEZ: TRYING TO DEVELOP CHEMISTRY AND SHOW LEADERSHIP**
Sanchez didn't throw any interceptions Wednesday, but that did not mean the day was what he wanted; he needed a strong move-the-ball drive at the end of practice to salvage the day, as he dealt with pressure from the Broncos' interior linemen and outside linebackers.
"The name of the game is just being consistent: Finding completions as quickly as possible and being as efficient as you can be leading those guys, and always staying upbeat," Sanchez said.
Teammates like C.J. Anderson and Emmanuel Sanders have pointed to Sanchez's leadership in the huddle during training camp, and that helped on the touchdown drive late in practice.
And while the day wasn't his best, he didn't throw any interceptions. Wednesday didn't see much in the way of big offensive plays, but it also didn't see backbreaking mistakes, either.
- SIEMIAN: "A LOT TO WORK ON"**
Trevor Siemian pointed to cadence as one area he's trying to improve. Having learned by watching one of the best in league history at cadence and tempo, Siemian leans on what he watched last year to hone that skill -- and was able to apply it by driving the No. 2 offense to a touchdown against the No. 1 defense.
"It was good. It was an unscripted period," Siemian said. "I think the offense did a really good job with cadence and that's part of the absent flows of camp. I got smacked around a bit early on, and we came back and finished up pretty well."
The opening act was a struggle, but Siemian completed eight of his final 11 passes that weren't wiped out by penalties.
"The first few periods were rough, especially with the offense. A lot of balls on the ground," Siemian said.
Undoubtedly those will end up in his notebook.
"I write two or three things down every day that I want to clean up," Siemian said. "That's kind of how it's been for me since I came in last year. Still got a ways to go. I think I'm getting better, but a lot to work on."
- LYNCH: "I JUST HAVE TO BE CONSISTENT"**
Paxton Lynch's progress is not going to be linear; there will be setbacks. Wednesday was one of those days, as he missed open receivers, and struggled in brief work with and against first-teamers. It was "kind of up and down," Kubiak said.
Lynch saw three seven-on-seven repetitions Wednesday. He went 0-for-3. C.J. Anderson got his hands on Lynch's first pass in the left flat but couldn't complete the catch; the next two were misfires.
But Lynch was an efficient 4-of-5 for 61 yards on his move-the-ball series, capping the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to TE Henry Krieger-Coble.
All three of his move-the-ball drives so far in training camp have ended in touchdowns. On those drives, the practice script doesn't exist; the playcalls are reactions to down and distance. These game-scenario periods are when Lynch has been at his best, and when he appears the most relaxed; like a good Major League Baseball pitcher, he "trusts his stuff."
"I think the biggest thing is just coming out here relaxing, just cutting it loose and playing ball," Lynch said. "Sometimes you get in your own head when you start missing throws, and then you miss more throws. I think the biggest thing here is just coming out here, relaxing and doing your thing."
If he could perform in all of practice like he does in the move-the-ball periods, he would have the consistency he seeks.
- BACKUP WR COMPETITION HEATING UP.**
Cody Latimer had his best day of training camp so far, catching multiple passes all over the field. Jordan Taylor also had another strong day; despite an early drop, he had some big receptions, including a 21-yarder in the move-the-ball period and a 20-yard catch near the sideline as he got open as Sanchez rolled out.
"Cody and 'Sunshine' [Taylor] keep making plays for our team," Kubiak said.
Latimer has also helped extend some sweeps with blocks of opposing cornerbacks on the outside, but that ability is of no surprise; he was considered by some to be the best blocking wide receiver in the 2014 draft class.
6. DISRUPTIVE PASS RUSH
The injuries to guards Ty Sambrailo (elbow), Sam Brenner (concussion) and Max Garcia (sprained ankle) and the ensuing shuffle along the offensive line must be taken into account, but the pass rush had an especially strong day, with Jared Crick, Shane Ray, Sylvester Williams, Vance Walker, Corey Nelson, Dekoda Watson and Vontarrius Dora were just some of the defenders who generated pressure and put the quarterbacks under duress.
Walker burst through the line on consecutive plays early in the team period, once to defuse a run with back-side pursuit, and again to stuff a run -- not bad for a player dealing with back soreness that sidelined him Monday.
"He comes out here and battles through it, practices," Kubiak said. "He goes for almost two and a half hours, works his tail off. That's what Vance is made of. That is why he is becoming such a good player."