ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Thursday night will belong to Paxton Lynch and a horde of reserves looking to make one final impression before the Broncos trim their roster to 53 players on Saturday.
Lynch is not fighting for a spot, of course. But Head Coach Gary Kubiak wants to see the rookie continue his incremental progress -- this time playing from start to finish, which is the plan barring injury.
"He's going to play with a lot of young players. I thought he could handle his group a little better than he did last week, so he's going to play with the same guys this week," Kubiak said.
"I just want to see him consistently improve. It's not going to be very complicated; I'd like to see him play a little faster and see him take another step."
Sure, Lynch will face Arizona's reserves, but the process of starting and playing an entire NFL game from start to finish is still something new from which he will draw experience.
"I've been coming into the second half for all of the other games so I've kind of been sitting around and it takes me a while to get going. It's going to feel good getting warmed up and being able to go out there and play right away."
If Lynch is injured during the game, Mark Sanchez would replace him. Kubiak declined to address Sanchez's status beyond that.
"We just want to see Paxton play the whole game," Kubiak said. "He needs every [darn] snap he can get."
Five other takeaways from the Broncos' Tuesday of work:
- PAXTON LYNCH'S TRACK: 'ABOUT AS FAST AS WE CAN GET IT'**
And while Kubiak is pleased with Lynch's progress, he knows it will not be on a straight incline. There will be fits and starts, ups and downs.
"I'll say this: there have been times where I'm saying, 'Boy this is coming real fast,' and all of a sudden he'll remind me two days later, 'No I'm not, not yet.' It's been really good. There have been steps at time where he takes a step back and we have to catch back up. Hopefully we continue to work.
"We're going to have to find ways, once we get going, to actually do a lot more extra with him than say some other guys you're working with. We want to get it done as quickly as we can."
Kubiak has Lynch on the fast track, and he believes that scout-team work against perhaps the fastest defense in football will help accelerate that growth -- just as it did for Trevor Siemian last year.
"It makes you play fast," Kubiak said. "One of the things during the preseason with Trevor that I was really impressed with, was I don't think Trevor was sacked one time. That's not so much us protecting him better than the other guys; that's is just an internal clock, playing the game fast, getting the ball going and understanding situations.
"That's a part that we were really impressed with. That will definitely help Paxton."
2. LYNCH MAKING PROGRESS UNDER CENTER, DROPPING BACK
Although Lynch's 6-foot-7 frame provides him an advantage in seeing the field, it also creates some issues -- namely that he can cover so much ground with his long stride that he can drop too far back in the pocket.
"He's so long when he drops, he ends up about a yard and a half deeper than Mark or Trevor," Kubiak said.
"Instead of worrying about big elongated steps getting back, you kind of shorten it and quicken it a little bit," Lynch added. "That's kind of one thing that I've been doing."
Kubiak says that he has seen progress.
"I think that he's improved there," he said. "If anything, in the [shot]gun, he's such a big guy and a long guy that he gets too deep with these NFL edge [rushers] that he's not used to, so that's something we're really having to improve upon."
- IMPACT OF THE ROSTER MOVES ON PLAYING TIME THURSDAY**
With Bralon Addison placed on waivers and first-teamers not expected to play much, the kickoff and punt-return work is likely to fall on Kalif Raymond, who has handled both duties for much of the preseason.
Raymond is also expected to be busy on offense, with Addison and Durron Neal no longer with the team. Thus, the bulk of the receiving repetitions should belong to to Raymond, rookie Mose Frazier and former practice-squad receiver Jordan Taylor, who hopes for one big night to make his case for a roster spot.
With the decision to waive Cameron Jefferson, Mathu Gibson and Kyle Roberts in the last two days, look for plenty of work from rookies Lars Hanson and Justin Murray at the tackle spots.
And of course, Riley Dixon will handle all punting work after Britton Colquitt's seven-season Broncos career ended.
4. "JEDI MIND TRICKS" FOR SANCHEZ
The eight-year veteran quarterback smiled when he said that he uses those to block out the distractions that encircle him in the wake of the decision to start Siemian and the rumors that have followed regarding his roster spot.
Despite the decision, Sanchez reaffirmed his desire to stay with the Broncos.
"I want to be here. I love being here," he said. "I've gotten to know these guys and embrace this community. I've had a great time here. Who knows about anything on the outside; I'm focused on getting ready for Carolina.
"All of that stuff, whether it's contract stuff -- I've been hit up a lot with questions about contract or trades and there is a business side to this, but I'm just focused on playing. That's why you hire an agent. They handle all of that stuff and they'll let me know."
Before heading to Arizona to face the Cardinals in the preseason finale, the Broncos wrapped up their practices. (photos by Eric Bakke)
- INJURY UPDATES**
TE JEFF HEUERMANpracticed Tuesday, marking his second consecutive day of work since he suffered a hamstring injury Aug. 17 and will be available for Thursday.
WR BENNIE FOWLERwas on the field for practice Tuesday and continues to improve in his recovery from an elbow injury suffered Aug. 11 at Chicago. However, he is "not ready to go right now," Kubiak said.
WR CODY LATIMERsaw limited work Tuesday as he recovers from a knee injury suffered on a punt play last Saturday, but "has a chance" to play in Arizona, Kubiak said.
WR EMMANUEL SANDERSwas sent home before practice after becoming ill Tuesday morning.
OL TY SAMBRAILOis improving, Kubiak said. The second-year lineman did not have a brace on the elbow he injured during practice July 31. "Hopefully, maybe next week there's some football involved where he's in position to start hitting people and we brace it down," Kubiak said.
OL DARRION WEEMSwill be able to play Thursday after getting final clearance through the league-mandated post-concussion protocol Tuesday. Weems worked the last two days, when the Broncos practiced without helmets and pads.
A player-by-player look at our initial roster. (Photos by AP)