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Takeaways from practice and the Broncos' QB decision day

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --As the Broncos went back to work Monday, the focus remained under center, where Trevor Siemian was named the regular-season starter.

Was it a bold decision to start the 2015 seventh-round pick?

"No, I feel like it's the right decision," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said.

Takeaways from a busy Monday at the UCHealth Training Center follow:



"I think he's earned the right to be our guy," Kubiak said. "That's what I told the team this morning. I go back and I look at the body of work throughout the offseason, and I watch training camp throughout the preseason, how far he's come. I watch how much he's improved, in my opinion, the grasp that he has of what we're doing. To me, he's earned the right to go out there and be our starter."

"It's not that the other guys didn't do something. It's really more about how far Trevor has come as a player."

And that meant playing within his own capabilities and playing to his strengths, and not trying to be Peyton Manning or anyone else.

"I just tried to stay within myself, be myself day in and day out and be the best teammate that I could be and learn as much as I could," Siemian said. "I'm really fortunate in the sense that I got a chance to get some pretty good coaching while I'm here, so I just try to take as much coaching [as possible] the whole way through and take it day by day."

That incremental improvement from day to day earned Siemian the job not through one a-ha moment, but gradually, through a summer's worth of work.

"Someone asked me when I thought Trevor had a chance to get to this point, and really I thought it was through the offseason, and OTAs," Kubiak said. "I knew he was a good kid. I knew he worked hard. I knew he watched Peyton go about his business from that standpoint, but once we started OTAs, it was time for me to see exactly where he was, and I think every day he kind of showed us, 'I can do this, I can be competitive in this situation and I believe in myself.'"



Facing a Super Bowl rematch on Thursday Night Football against an opponent with a fierce pass rush growling at the chance for revenge would be a daunting task for any quarterback, let alone one with no career regular-season passes to his name.

But Kubiak doesn't think the challenge of being a starter and opening under such circumstances is beyond what Siemian can handle -- in part because of the experience that will surround him.

"Is it a lot to ask of a young kid? Yes, it is," Kubiak said. "But it's not a lot to ask of a team, and I believe in our team. So that's how we go about everything around here."

"It's going to be about how we play as a group, not one guy. It's all of our jobs to help him, and help him be successful."

Added OLB DeMarcus Ware: "There's no 'I' in team, but if I don't do my job, the team suffers. I tell the guys that all the time. And if Trevor doesn't do his job, the team suffers."

One way that his teammates have already helped him is in practice, with the No. 1 defense cranking up the pressure, giving Siemian a chance to test himself under duress.

"When you look at quarterbacks, you're always thinking about [whether] they're great decision-makers under pressure," Ware said. "And he's one of those guys where when we're coming in practice, when we're blitzing, he always makes the right decisions."



Upon hearing from Kubiak that Siemian would be the starting quarterback, the team broke out in a round of applause during its Monday morning meeting, echoing the growing support Siemian has built over the course of his offseason and training-camp work, particularly in his snaps with the first team.

Siemian's presence in the huddle helped him win over his teammates.

"His calm demeanor -- he's very poised," WR Emmanuel Sanders said. "Even when he comes into the huddle, he's always the same guy. I remember when he first came in, I said, 'You remind me a lot of Aaron Rodgers and the way that he goes about his business and is always having fun, and even the way that he slings the football around.' He's that backyard football kind of guy, but yet he's still loose.

"I know that everyone in the huddle enjoys when he comes in there, because he's always cool, calm and collected."

And that has helped him flourish under pressure this summer.

"He is one of those guys who always makes the right decisions," Ware said.


With the last days of preseason before us, players looking to make a final lasting impression must begin it with a strong week. (photos by Eric Bakke)


"He needs to play every rep he can play," Kubiak said. "That has nothing to do with Mark [Sanchez] or anything; I've got a lot of stuff to go off on Mark. But Paxton needs every rep he can possibly get."

And so do plenty of young players. Kubiak referenced the numerous "tough decisions" that loom as the Broncos trim their roster to 53 players over the next five days. The team has to make four moves by 2 p.m. MDT on Tuesday just to get to the 75-man deadline.

"Chances are, we're playing young guys across the board, not just [at quarterback]," Kubiak said.


Kubiak plans to sit his first team Thursday at Arizona in part because the season opener with the Carolina Panthers is just seven days beyond that.

Monday, the team began diving into its Panthers preparation.

"We're gonna start working on Carolina, and start trying to build even more chemistry working after practice and get this thing on the same page so we can start winning some ballgames," Sanders said.


Offensive lineman Darrion Weems passed through the post-concussion protocol and practiced Monday during the individual period. It was his first work since he suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the Aug. 20 preseason loss to San Francisco.

Tight ends Jeff Heuerman (hamstring) and Garrett Graham (shoulder) also returned to practice Monday. Kubiak said he has a decision to make regarding whether Heuerman can play at Arizona on Thursday.

Ware practiced once again after returning last week, and said he's at "94 percent right now," referencing his jersey number as he did when asked last month what percentage he wanted to reach by the regular-season opener.

"I'm really good. I'm ready for Carolina," he added.

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