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Case Keenum settles in on Day 1

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Case Keenum's first training-camp practice as a team's clear-cut No. 1 quarterback was smooth.

He guided the offense crisply and confidently. He avoided mistakes. He was precise in the seven-on-seven periods, completing all but two of his passes against first-team linebackers and defensive backs.

Keenum spread the ball around, completing passes to nine different targets during team and seven-on-seven work, from the young (rookies Phillip Lindsay, Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton) to the seasoned (Emmanuel Sanders was a frequent target).

In watching Keenum, one would never have believed he was nervous coming into the day -- although it's not what you might think.

"It's not an anxious nervous; it's an excited nervous, because I know I'm prepared for it," Keenum said. "When I showed up this morning and I see fans lined up before I get here and I'm like, 'OK ... it's on now,' ... that gets my stomach going a little bit.

"I tell people -- especially in our business -- if you're not feeling something in your stomach, then maybe you should be doing something else."

There isn't anything else Keenum would rather be doing right now than being a team's undisputed starting quarterback at the start of a training camp. It's a status that is the result of six seasons of work through four teams and four schemes before he signed with Denver in March.

But that isn't his goal. Taking the final steps -- leading a team to the Super Bowl and winning it -- that remains the dream come true.

"I've been close enough to taste it and feel it and not get there, so that's what's driving me," he said. "Always learning, always falling back on who I am and not straying too far from that, but always growing and learning and trying to be the leader that this team needs me to be."

But Saturday's practice can't be overlooked in the career arc of Keenum. Being the clear No. 1 quarterback is another step along a path that has mostly been golden since he took the fork in the road that led to Minnesota and Denver -- and to a chance at success he had never experienced as a pro.

"I've taken everything from my past and I'm applying it now," he said. "I think everything that I've been through -- all the adversity -- it's made me into who I am."

And that is a quarterback who on Saturday commanded the Broncos' huddle as though he had been there for years.

"It's a different speed when Case is in there," Lindsay said. "You kind of get uptight because he's the starting quarterback, and when you're out there on the field, he's expecting you to know what you're doing. He's expecting you to know your steps, everything, because when the ball gets there, he needs you to have it. He's not afraid to tell you that."

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