ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --A trip to the San Francisco Bay Area for a pair of practices and a game with the 49ers looms -- and few players will be under the spotlight more this week than second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch.
He will receive the starting assignment in Saturday's game after continuing to split first-team repetitions with Trevor Siemian throughout the week. Lynch is expected to play approximately one-and-a-half quarters, roughly the same amount as Siemian did with the No. 1 offense in last Thursday's preseason opener at Chicago.
What does Head Coach Vance Joseph want to see?
"I want to see consistency," Joseph said. "Decision-making is always an important part from me from that position. Ball placement. Just to play well and have success. Relax, throw it around."
Training camp is over, but the Broncos' work ethic didn't change as they returned to UCHealth Training Center on Monday following an off day.(Photos by Gabriel Christus, unless noted)
Lynch had some success during seven-on-seven and team periods midway through practice.
During one "move-the-ball" team period, he guided the offense out of a second-and-long situation with a pair of completions to Emmanuel Sanders, avoided a sack by stepping inside and away from a Kasim Edebali rush, then hit Virgil Green on a third-and-5 to move the chains.
A late two-minute drill period saw a mixed bag. Lynch completed a pass to Sanders for a first down, but he then threw a pass that was intercepted by Aqib Talib, although it was called back because of a defensive offsides penalty.
"He was decent early -- then an interception," Joseph said. "Thank [goodness] Von was offside, so he got another chance. But he wasn't bad at all. The one ball I don't like, but I wasn't sure what happened in coverage. When it came off his hand, it was a wobble."
... During that same two-minute drill period, Trevor Siemian led the second-team offense into the red zone, but the unit got no closer to the touchdown it needed. Siemian converted a pair of third downs, hitting Austin Traylor for one connection and Kalif Raymond up the left sideline for a perfect 28-yard gain. But the offense stalled from there, and a fourth-and-7 attempt failed when Dymonte' Thomas broke up an attempt into the end zone.
... RB Jamaal Charles continued to get team-period repetitions. Charles showed good speed getting to the edge during the nine-on-seven period, working outside of Corey Nelson to break into the open field. He also had a good run in the team period, making a sharp cut after taking the handoff to burst off right guard for a 10-yard gain.
... The Broncos left practice in wait-and-see mode as they awaited the results of DE Jared Crick's MRI examination. Crick was carted off the field after suffering presumed back spasms, but he was able to walk back into the main building of UCHealth Training Center.
Crick's injury came on the heels of the season-ending torn ACL suffered by Billy Winn and the lower-ankle sprain suffered by Derek Wolfe, leaving the Broncos thin on the defensive line. Second-year NT Kyle Peko also remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list because of a foot injury suffered in OTAs.
The Broncos signed rookie Nelson Adams on Saturday, but Joseph said he would "maybe" add another player to provide depth on the defensive line if Crick's injury keeps him out for an extended period of time.
"We're not sure," Joseph said. "That's more of a conversation we'll have with [President of Football Operations/General Manager] John [Elway] about how bad and how long it will be for Crick."
... Joseph said that he would not look at shifting DeMarcus Walker back to defensive end. Walker has worked at outside linebacker the last two weeks in the wake of injuries to Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray.
"For right now, we've got guys in those spots; we're just going to push them up," Joseph said.
... Joseph said that the Broncos would work in full pads during their Wednesday joint practice with the 49ers. The teams will practice in shells on Thursday.
"That's going to be a big deal. We don't want any fights, we don't want any nonsense. We want to just go play football," Joseph said. "[San Francisco 49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and I talked last night about that, so that's going to be emphasized for both teams.
"No fighting, no pushing. Just good professional football work. That's what we're looking for."
... The starting defense will play "a quarter, max" during Saturday's preseason game, Joseph said.
... G Allen Barbre continued to split first-team repetitions with Max Garcia, as he did Saturday.
... Wolfe is "day-to-day" with his lower-ankle sprain, Joseph said. Adam Gotsis filled in for Wolfe during Monday's practice.
"We're going to be smart with this thing," Joseph said. "We're not going to rush him back and put him out there at 80 percent -- not during preseason. We're going to make sure he's 100 percent before he plays again."
... WR Carlos Henderson did not practice after undergoing surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. His recovery timetable is still being determined.
"It depends on the healing process, how it looks in a couple of weeks before we know the long-term effects of it," Joseph said. "But he got it fixed."
... Zach Kerr filled in for Crick after he suffered back spasms.
... S T.J. Ward remained sidelined with a hamstring injury. He will not travel with the team to the San Francisco Bay Area in order to receive treatment, Joseph said.
... CB Dontrell Nelson is close to returning after working through the league-mandated post-concussion protocol. Nelson saw individual-period repetitions Monday, but he was not wearing pads. Joseph expects him to be cleared for full participation Tuesday.