CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Tick. Tock.
Is it Paxton or Brock? As of Friday morning, the Broncos remain undecided on their starting quarterback, with coach Vance Joseph saying a choice would be made later in the day.
Osweiler earned the job and remains the clear favorite, but the team wants to see Lynch play as it evaluates all quarterback options entering the offseason.
Multiple players expected Osweiler to receive the nod given how Lynch struggled with his sprained left ankle.
The plan began to crystallize this week. If deemed healthy, Lynch would start. The problem is that he has not shown confidence in his left ankle during practices.
Friday, Joseph said Lynch was at "90 percent," and would be available as a backup if necessary, an indication the ankle has progressed.
"Paxton has done a nice job of working through his injury. He made plays today that I don't think he could have made Wednesday," said offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave of Lynch, who is 1-2 as a starter. "It's tougher to throw when you have a lower body issue with your foundation. Paxton is working through those challenges."
Whether it's Osweiler, the favorite, or Lynch, it will mark the fifth change at the position. Trevor Siemian, facing an uncertain future following four shoulder injuries, started the season and went 3-4 in seven games. Osweiler replaced him, going 0-3 as a starter. That created an avenue for Lynch, whose cameo lasted three quarters before he limped off in a loss against Oakland and became emotional on the bench, sobbing into a towel. Siemian returned against the New York Jets, playing well in a win, but struggled at Miami and suffered dislocated non-throwing shoulder against the Colts.
If based on performance alone, Osweiler would be under center. Osweiler delivered a terrific relief outing in last Thursday's victory over the Colts. It represented the Broncos' first road win, and Osweiler's fingerprints were all over it. He threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another after Siemian dislocated his left shoulder.
"I was playing backyard football," Osweiler said.
With the Broncos 5-9 and eliminated from the playoffs, however, the team is determined to look at prospects. Regardless of the starter, the Broncos are expected to make finding a quarterback a top priority following the season. They will cast a wide net in free agency and the draft (the Broncos are expected to watch Wyoming's Josh Allen in his bowl game Friday). However, general manager John Elway admitted he wants to contend next season, which makes a veteran more likely. Those expected to be on the radar include Washington's Kirk Cousins or Kansas City's Alex Smith, if he becomes available.
Running back De'Angelo Henderson is expected to be active this week. He has not played since the Buffalo game. ... Emmanuel Sanders continues to struggle with an ankle injury, leaving him questionable for the game. ... Kicker Brandon McManus -- or McManus Claus -- gifted his teammates Christmas-themed dress jackets from Shinesty. Garett Bolles liked them so much he ordered an additional one. He plans to wear the drummer-boy themed jacket with white pants either to the game or on the plane.