ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --With helmets on and veterans with 700-plus snaps so far this season off from team-period work, Tuesday's work belonged to many younger Broncos -- including rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch, who took all the repetitions as the Broncos got in one final session before they departed for a five-day bye-weekend break.
That's where the Tuesday takeaways begin:
1. A BUSY DAY FOR LYNCH
With Trevor Siemian enjoying the chance to rest his sore shoulder, Lynch had his busiest practice day since the sessions prior to his Week 5 start against the Atlanta Falcons, giving him another chance to show the extent of his progress.
"Good work [for him] today. He was in control of the football team for the most part, so it was a really good day for him to get some work in," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said.
"It's good just to watch him take over."
Consistency continues to be an issue for Lynch, Kubiak said, but that is to be expected given his youth and his learning curve.
"Paxton shows amazing talent throwing the ball, making plays and stuff," Kubiak said. "And then there's inconsistencies and doing the right thing, [reading a] key in coverage right."
The long-term positives outweigh the negatives for both Lynch and Siemian, but Kubiak wants to see both take the next steps in their development as quickly as possible.
"The future's very bright for this organization, because we've got two good young players," Kubiak said. "But the key is, we want them to be great quick. I want Trevor to play at as high a level as he can possibly play at down the stretch because that's important for our team."
- SIEMIAN TAKES A BREATHER**
Tuesday's respite from throwing was welcome for Siemian, whose left shoulder remains sore after his fifth game since suffering the injury at Tampa Bay on Oct. 2.
"He's been throwing enough," Kubiak said.
In the last two weeks, opponents have hit Siemian 16 times, including eight that ended in sacks and another eight on which he got the football away. That contact rate of one every 5.31 pass plays is worse than both the Broncos' season-long average (one every 6.16 pass plays) and the league average (one every 7.01 pass plays).
"A lot of rest. I won't be doing too much bench press this week," Siemian quipped.
But the rest will only be physical; Siemian also intends to invest time reviewing the film of every game so far this season.
"I'll do a little self-scouting," Siemian said.
3. 'BIG' EXPECTATIONS FOR SIEMIAN
"I think it's good," Siemian said of Kubiak's pronouncement that he wants "big" things from him over the rest of the season.
"Kubes expects a lot out of me. I expect a lot out of myself, truthfully. I take it for what it is. I'd rather have that than the other way around."
Playing "big" starts with avoiding the big mistakes that have multiplied in recent weeks. After turning the ball over just three times in his first six starts, Siemian has six giveaways in the last three games -- four interceptions and two lost fumbles.
"I think it's just not seeing them right or feeling a little pressure and getting the ball out a little early. It's different every time," Siemian said. "But no doubt, [I've] got to take better care of the ball."
Reducing the depth of his drops out of the shotgun will also be a priority, which was another point Kubiak made Monday.
"That's on me. I can't do that to our tackles. It's too tough on them," Siemian said. "I feel pretty good about it; there was really one play last week where that happened to me, but it was something that came up a while ago, and I think I've gotten better at it. I still had that one play that didn't work out for us. I've just got to be better there."
- CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR THOMAS AND SANDERS**
Both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are on pace for at least 86 receptions and 1,000 yards apiece, so the Broncos' top two receivers remain productive. But opportunities have not always been there for the two wide receivers, especially in scoring range. They combined for six touchdown catches in the Broncos' first five games, but have just two in the last five.
"You've got to get him and Emmanuel as many touches as you can, somehow, some way, and a lot of that's on me," Siemian said.
And that means trusting Sanders and Thomas to win their share of 50-50 balls in tight coverage, as Thomas did on his fourth-quarter touchdown Sunday in New Orleans.
"Even when they're not open, they're open," Siemian said.
5. TALIB ON SCHEDULE
The lower-back injection Aqib Talib received late in Week 10 before the Broncos' loss to Oakland was "successful," Kubiak said, allowing the cornerback to return to practice Tuesday.
"He's feeling good," Kubiak said. "I know how excited he is about the last six weeks. So it's good to see him get some work in, and then we'll pick it up again next week."
The Broncos haven't just missed Talib's coverage skills, but his demeanor, energy and attitude in the defensive huddle.
"He's such a positive, playmaking, energy guy," Kubiak said. "Aqib is a loud guy; we all know that. But it's all about football when he's out here; he's very bright. We missed him, and it's just great to know that he's feeling well."