ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **Quarterback Trevor Siemian started 14 games in the 2016 season, yet he entered the 2017 offseason with the same perspective he had the year before, preparing himself for a quarterback competition. The difference this time around, of course, is that Siemian brings a full season and eight wins as a starter to the table, rather than the lone regular-season kneel-down he had in 2015.
"It was a lot of fun, for sure — a lot of learning," Siemian says of his 2016 season. "You find out how long the season is mentally and physically. It's a long season. [It was] definitely good to go through [it for] the first time, and I think I'll be even more ready the next time I go through it."
He threw for 3,401 yards, with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, including a Week 3 performance in which he threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals. He also earned the trust of his teammates, as shown by the team's decision to make him captain for the second half of the season. Still, he will again have to battle for the starting job with talented 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch.
However, a quarterback competition is nothing new for Siemian. He spent his sophomore and junior years at Northwestern contending with Kain Colter before earning the starting position in his senior season, and he beat out Mark Sanchez and Lynch for the starting job last August.
"You're pushing each other every day," Siemian says. "I'm used to it because of college, but I think it's good for everybody — both me and Paxton, but also the rest of the team. It's exciting, and I think we're both ready to go back to work."
Siemian's new head coach, Vance Joseph, has emphasized an equal opportunity for both quarterbacks to win the starting job since his first day.
"It's going to be an open competition," Joseph said at his introductory press conference. "That's going to make both guys better. Whoever is the best for our team, [we'll] make sure that's who is going to play."
That competition will be starkly different from the one Siemian won in 2016, though. Joseph's first hire, new Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy, brings a new offense into the fold, and Siemian will be learning from a new quarterbacks coach as well. "It's a challenge for sure, but it's a challenge for everybody," Siemian says. "We're all starting from square one, which is good. We can all learn together."
Before that can happen, Siemian must first recover from the effects of the past season. Monday through Friday, Siemian comes to UCHealth Training Center to rehab his left shoulder from a January surgery.
"I'm on track," Siemian says after a day of rehab and lifting. "I can lift [and] do everything except obviously [with] my left shoulder. I'm getting into some cardio now, riding the bike, stuff like that. It's going well."
"On track" for Siemian means a return sometime around the start of OTAs after the players all return in April, and after the Broncos welcome a new draft class. When Siemian's finally cleared to play, it will also be time for him to demonstrate the leadership he learned last season as the starting quarterback.
"As a quarterback, naturally you're stepping into a leadership role" Sieman says. "I think the more I play, the more I'm comfortable stepping into that role, but [I'm] still able to be myself."