ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The Broncos don't know who will start at quarterback between the injured Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch -- and they might not know for a while.
"I'll take it all the way to game day," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "I trust Trevor. He knows exactly what we're doing. He's very bright. He's on top of everything [at practice], he's a part of the walk-throughs and everything we're doing."
Siemian did not practice Wednesday because of a sprained left shoulder, and Kubiak says he plans to evaluate where the second-year quarterback stands before deciding whether to have him throw Thursday.
The Broncos have won nine consecutive games dating back to last December with four different quarterbacks. No team is more accustomed to shaking off a change and sticking with their plan regardless of who receives the snaps.
"You just approach it like every other game," wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. "At the end of the day, you don't want to put too much emphasis on the quarterback position.
"If you look around the league last week, you look at all the teams that are undefeated. You look at the situation out there in Philadelphia; they've got a rookie quarterback and are still undefeated," he said, referring to No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz. He also cited New England being forced to start Jacoby Brissett for two games, one of which they won.
"Whoever they go with, we've still got to uplift and go out and make plays and win ballgames," Sanders said.
And that's where Wednesday's takeaways begin.
- IF LYNCH PLAYS, THE OFFENSE WON'T BE HELD BACK**
The offense did not change when Lynch entered late in the second quarter at Tampa Bay last Sunday, and if he starts against the Falcons, it will remain the same.
"You don't tweak game plans," Kubiak said. "You plan to play, and once you get there, who's doing it, you may call things a little different, and you may do some things as a coach sometimes that way, but as far as your preparation, how you attack people, you're going to put it together one way or another. I would say that doesn't change much."
"I don't think it will change at all, honestly," Sanders said. "He's a young guy, but he's still been in the system all through OTAs. He's been going with us, even when Trevor was healthy."
Sanders said that Lynch has been running the last two plays of each offensive series in practice "even when Trevor was healthy," which has further helped his development.
RB C.J. Anderson noted that he can see just how much better Lynch has become at understanding the offense and running it from the time he started on-field work in May until now. That progress is what allows Lynch to run the entire offense without restriction.
"You can just tell the preparation from OTAs, training camp, all the way to now, that it gives us the opportunity not to go and be conservative, to run our offense the way we want to run it. That's probably the biggest area he's proven [himself]," Anderson said.
- COULD SIEMIAN PLAY WITHOUT PRACTICING?**
"I think so. I think you have to be able to," he said when asked about that at his press conference after practice.
"You don't get enough reps during the week as it is for every look, so you've got to make the most of what you see on tape and what you see in practice and go from there."
Kubiak said Monday that Siemian could still play against the Falcons without receiving a bulk of the practice repetitions.
"Mental reps, for sure," Siemian said, citing the work that he has received with Quarterbacks Coach Greg Knapp. "Coach Knapp's helping me out a lot with that. But that's the way it goes, and you've got to be pretty good at that, making the most of your mental reps.
"They'll get us all ready to play, including me," Siemian added.
- FOR YOUNG QBs, IT'S IMPORTANT TO KEEP THE CHATTER DOWN**
There is a such thing as too much information, and Siemian understands that. So if he doesn't play against Atlanta, he'll limit the amount of time he spends in Lynch's ear -- and what information he passes along.
"I'll tell him a thing here and there, but you want to keep his focus narrow," Siemian said. "That goes for all of us. You want as much coaching as you can take, but at the same time, you want to be able to focus on one voice."
That extends to the field, where Anderson can identify a potential pass rusher or look in coverage, but knows that he can't share all the possibilities when a young quarterback has so much to process.
"I've kind of eased off, especially letting Trev get his feet wet. Then he got his feet wet, and he's more comfortable now."
Lynch is still at the point where he's getting his feet wet, Anderson said, so he will make sure he doesn't throw too much at the rookie if he starts Sunday.
"You don't want to bombard him with a whole bunch of things [during] his first actual start," Anderson said. "I'm just going to do my part, and when Kubiak or Rico [Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison] tells me, 'This is something he might miss; go ahead and let him know,' then I'm going to let him know."
The Broncos got to work Wednesday preparing for the Falcons and Sunday's game. (photos by Eric Bakke)
- LYNCH PLAYS IT COOL**
One reason Lynch flourished on the fly after stepping into the huddle last week was that he didn't try to do anything but be himself. The confidence he has in his personality was apparent to teammates, who saw a quarterback composed beyond his years.
"He's still cool. He doesn't show any nerves," Sanders said. "He just goes in and [is] himself. And that's all he can be: He can just be the best self he can be and just deliver the football and prepare."
Kubiak sees the progress in Lynch -- beyond just what he does on game days.
"He's much improved as far as just handling himself, handling the huddle, those types of things," Kubiak said. "His confidence throwing the ball -- he's always had that, just handling all the aspects of walking in here today and getting a game plan that's different than the one he had last week. He adjusts a little quicker, so I think he's just more confident in his ability each week to refocus, start over and get ready to play."
Add Lynch: "From the footwork up, I feel really confident in myself, how I am with the playbook now and how my footwork has timed up with the routes and concepts as well as getting in and out of the huddle. I'm getting better at that, day in and day out. I'm just pleased with where I am right now."
- DOING CARTWHEELS**
Because Sanders' celebration of his fourth-quarter touchdown did not involve him going to the ground, it was subjected to neither a fine nor a penalty.
"I didn't get fined," he said. "So maybe I can bring it back."
A flag flew, but it was picked up.
"Kubiak was mad at me about that," Sanders said. "I was like, 'I didn't know.' Then [referee Jerome Boger] picked up the penalty and I was like, 'Oh, Kubiak owes me an apology.' But it's all good."
Of course, he'll want to improve on his form, but by one definition, he already thinks he's hit the apex of his cartwheeling technique.
"Perfect 10," replied Sanders when asked how he would score it.