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Paxton Lynch shrugs off pressure as he prepares for first start of 2017


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **Throughout the past six months, Paxton Lynch has done his best to stay even-keeled.

Disappointement filled most of those months. Lynch had lost the training-camp quarterback competition, then suffered a sprain in his throwing shoulder and then had to watch the team struggle in six straight losses as he worked to recover from the injury.

Through it all, he forced himself to avoid feeling the despondency or frustration that those experiences could bring.

The Broncos' preparation for the Raiders is underway. (Photos: Gabriel Christus unless noted)

And when he made strides in his recovery and progressed to taking first-team passing repetitions while Brock Osweiler recovered from a sore shoulder he suffered after a Week 10 loss to the Patriots, Lynch tried to stop himself from getting too elated at the thought of making a return at some point.

But with Head Coach Vance Joseph's announcement that he will start Sunday against the Raiders, Lynch is ready to embrace his excitement. 

"First off, I was excited about it to get my opportunity, especially being hurt all season and not being able to even practice and throw a ball," Lynch said after practice Wednesday. "I was itching to get out here, but now that I'm out here, it feels good to get back into the swing of things. I'm excited about Sunday now."

His first start of the season comes at a time when the Broncos' offense is recalibrating with the hope of finding success in ways that eluded them for much of the season. To do so, the Broncos parted ways with Mike McCoy and promoted Bill Musgrave from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.

Lynch shrugged off the notion during his media availability that there's a lot of pressure on him to perform.

"I didn't really think of there being any pressure if I were to come in anytime during the season," Lynch said. "You can't let the season get bigger than you or the game be bigger than you. Whether we were on a winning streak or not, it's one game at a time, so that was the mentality coming into it."

As he prepares for this start — his first since Week 13 of last year — Lynch carries more experience than he had as a rookie. That includes experience playing with the first-team offense during training camp and preseason, which was not an opportunity he received last year.

"Last year when I came in to play, it was a little different of a story," Lynch said. "I didn't get that many reps with the ones, but all of training camp I was rotating in and out with [QB] Trevor [Siemian], so I think that benefited me a lot. I was able to come out here and not take as long to get my timing down with those guys and get in a rhythm with those guys. It felt good even though it was the first day out here, but we're going to keep working towards Sunday." 

And when he leaves the field at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Lynch hopes to come away with one simple accomplishment.

"Getting a win," Lynch said, when asked how he would define success on Sunday. "I want to go out there and win the game, obviously, however that happens — however we have to do that. I think we have a good game plan and we're moving towards that."

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