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Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch eye improvement in different areas as QB competition begins

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch are in the same spot.

A week into offseason workouts, Siemian and Lynch find themselves in a "50-50" battle for the Broncos' starting quarterback job, Head Coach Vance Joseph said Monday.

From now until the Broncos' opener in early September, Lynch and Siemian will seek to find an edge in the locker room and on the field. At some point, one will inch ahead in a competition Joseph hopes is decided by a razor-thin margin. 

For now, the former first-round pick and last year's starter are dead even. That's OK with Siemian, who guided the Broncos to an 8-6 record in his first year as a starter.

"I think you learn pretty quickly — or at least I did — you've got to earn it every year [and] every day in the league," Siemian said. "And that goes for beyond me and Paxton. That's for everybody. If you're not playing well or earning a job or earning a spot [and] you're getting worse, you're not going to last very long.

"That's the reality of the thing. I know I can get better. I've got a lot of room to improve, but I think I've got some things I can build on. I'm really excited. I'm excited to get rolling."

And the competition is definitely OK with Lynch, who started two games and played in a third as Siemian dealt with injuries.

"[I have] the same mindset I had last year," Lynch said. "It was the same situation I kind of came into [as a rookie]. I've had a year in the NFL, a year to adjust. … I'm ready to come in here and compete and have an opportunity to go out there and be the starter."

Siemian's health won't hold him back as the competition begins. The seventh-round pick in 2015, who won the starting job during the 2016 offseason, dealt with a shoulder injury that kept him out of one contest and a foot issue that sidelined him for the other. After offseason surgery, however, he's "full-go" for all offseason activities, Joseph said earlier this week.

Staying that way won't be easy in a league where many play hurt, but being available for all 16 games is a skill Siemian must improve as he battles Lynch for the starting job.

"I think you watch and look around the league [and see] that the older guys that stay healthy, they're really smart with the football," Siemian said. "They ditch [it] when they have to, they get rid of it quicker, they're shooting check-downs pretty quickly or they're getting down. I had a chance to watch [former quarterback] Peyton [Manning] do that.

"I don't know if I thought I was Superman my first year and I could take a bunch of hits, but you can't play for an extended career doing that. That's something I'll fix."

Lynch, meanwhile, is focused on improvement in other areas.

Such is this quarterback competition. Just as the two players have different skill sets, they have different aspects of their games in which they must get better.

As the Broncos develop a new system under Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy, Lynch is looking for more command in a system he thinks will be similar enough to the one run by former head coach Gary Kubiak. Though the Broncos are through just three installation periods, Lynch said he expects McCoy to push the ball downfield and put him in the shotgun, where he excelled in college.

Those tweaks have Lynch in a place where he feels ready to take the starting job. 

"Obviously I believe in myself to be the starter this year, but I'm going to work hard just like I did last year," Lynch said. "I'm going to learn the offense, get extra work with these guys when I can, be in the building as much as I can at this time. That's what I'm aiming for. That's what I want to do." 

After a year in the NFL, Lynch seems ready to take the next step in his career. He said he feels more comfortable — both in regards to the playbook and around the facility. That's already evident to his teammates, whom Lynch saw when he returned to Denver a week before offseason workouts began.

"I think [the workouts] are very important," Lynch said. "Any chance I get to be around the guys and to be around the coaches, I jump at. That was one of the reasons I was here early. I was kind of itching to get back. I got back as soon as I could."

Siemian was around the facility for much of the offseason he rehabbed from his shoulder surgery.

He's got other things besides his health on which he's focused, including improving on third down and continuing to serve in a leadership capacity. But as he approaches the competition, he'll lean on the best teacher for which any quarterback can ask: game experience

"Well, I've played," Siemian said. "You can't substitute those reps, and I learned that pretty quickly. I think even toward the end of the year, just how I know my production — I don't know how it stacked up earlier in the year — but the game just felt a little easier for me. I saw things a little better. And you just can't substitute those reps, so hopefully that helps me out."

Lynch will get his own reps soon enough as the Broncos head toward OTAs. Siemian wanted to be fully healthy for when those practices begin, and that played a factor in him electing to undergo offseason surgery.

He's ready now. As is Lynch.

And so is everybody watching.

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