CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- A confluence of factors Monday led coach Vance Joseph to continue mulling his starting quarterback choice for Sunday's game at Washington.
Brock Osweiler has earned the spot. But the Broncos are going nowhere and could benefit from providing Paxton Lynch with reps.
"Brock played well," Joseph said. "We want to see Paxton play some. That’s the truth. We have to see where he is moving into the offseason
The Broncos sit at 5-9, eliminated from the playoffs, and Joseph's job status is no longer a weekly topic following back-to-back victories. As such, it makes sense to play and/or start Lynch if his sprained left ankle holds up in practice and he is able to digest a game plan and run the first-team offense for only the second time this season. It would amount to a December callup -- playing a prospect to see if he can secure a backup role or enhance trade value entering the offseason.
The counter argument against relates directly to Osweiler's play and the locker room. Osweiler played his best NFL game last Thursday, shoving the Broncos to their first road win of the season with two passing touchdowns and a running score. Osweiler went 4-for-4 for 100 yards in the third quarter in relief of the injured Trevor Siemian, who landed on injured reserved with a murky future following his fourth shoulder issue in two seasons.
Osweiler, by performance, earned the right to start his fourth game. However, he is a free agent with an uncertain future. There is no guarantee he returns, through he made a compelling argument to be in the mix for at least a backup role, salary willing, based on his breathtaking outing against the Colts.
If that was his last start, he had his mic drop moment.
"I was just playing backyard football. It was fun," Osweiler said. "Obviously I would like to keep playing, but that's not my decision."
Lynch's lone start came in a loss at Oakland. A potential breakthrough performance fueled by a pass to Devontae Booker quickly turned sour. Booker was ruled down at the 1-yard line, and moments later Lynch threw into triple coverage as Oakland recorded its first interception of the season. Lynch never recovered. He finished 9-for-14 for 41 yards before Siemian replaced him as sobbed on the bench over his ankle injry.
Players remained diplomatic about the decision, saying it was out of their hands. However, one veteran did admit, "17 deserves to play." '
Ray likely out for year
Outside linebacker Shane Ray's frustrating season is expected to end. Ray had two screws removed from his left wrist on Friday, his third surgery, and it left him unlikely to play again. Ray wants to stay on the field, but it makes little sense at this point. Unable to lift weights, he has dropped from 242 to 225 pounds, and is limited to grabbing blockers with one hand.
"I don't back down from any challenge. I would not do anything differently. I have no regrets because I needed to be out there for my team," Ray said. "But it's not looking good about playing (the final two weeks)."
Talked to Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe on Monday. He's doing core exercises as he recovers from his back injury. Smart decision, in my opinion, to get rest, and start moving toward next season. He will be needed to help pull this team back to playoffs. ... Inside linebacker Corey Nelson told Denver7 he's ahead of schedule from biceps tendon surgery.