CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Mark Sanchez holds the title of the Broncos' starting quarterback. On Thursday.
Well that's a different question entirely. It will likely be second-year pro Trevor Siemian. You see where we are going with this, right?
Coach Gary Kubiak declared the quarterback spot "an open competition" when he met the media Wednesday on the eve of training camp. He remains certain of one thing: Sanchez, Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch will get fair reps, though Lynch's will be limited with the first team.
Sanchez and Siemian spent the past month studying the playbook, preparing for a most interesting derby for a defending champion. Not since the 2000 Baltimore Ravens has a Super Bowl winner lost the top two quarterbacks on its roster. Peyton Manning retired -- he held a party prior to the ESPYs in Los Angeles to make it official, official in case anyone held out hope he would return. And Brock Osweiler took the Houston Texans' mammoth offer.
Into the vacancy step Sanchez, who hasn't acted as a starter for a team since 2012, and Siemian, who blew out his left knee in his final college season leading him to consider a career in commercial real estate before the Broncos drafted him in 2015. Sanchez understands he must take care of the ball better, his early career exploits undermined by critical turnovers in the last few seasons. Siemian knows he must show he's capable of leading after taking one snap last season -- a meaningless kneel down before halftime at Pittsburgh.
"It's about who does the best job with the team, about who gets the ball in the right hands the right way, and they also have to protect the ball," Kubiak explained. "We have two good young quarterbacks and one veteran who has had success in this league. We will know a lot more in a week."
Kubiak continues to remind all that practice evaluation is criticial given the scant reps against first-teamers in the preseason games. Receiver Demaryius Thomas wants a decision sooner rather later, believing it will improve chemistry. That might happen. Then again, it might not. Baseball managers have a saying that "players fill out the lineup" by the way they hit. It's up to Sanchez or Siemian to provide clarity for Kubiak.
"I don't know (when the choice will be made)," Kubiak said. "They are going to tell me by how they perform and how they handle the football team."
Regardless of the winner, General Manager John Elway believes the Broncos will improve at the position after they more closely resembled the Browns and Cowboys than Patriots and Steelers last season. The Broncos ranked 29th in touchdown passes with 19, while throwing the most interceptions with 23.
"I am not going to get into Super Bowl because obviously we won the Super Bowl last year. Therefore it's hard to compare to that. But I think we can be better offensively," said Elway, citing a revamped line and a second year in Kubiak's scheme. "As much as we like to say we did the right things offensively, we hung on. We have a chance to shape into a better offense. Even with Mark, Trevor and Paxton, we will have that balance and get good quality play out of that position."
Sanders contract talk percolates
The Bronos remain interested in signing receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a contract extension, Elway said. The preference is to get any deal done before the season starts. Sanders has put himself in good company with his past two seasons, with recent $10-million-a-year deals given to Jacksonville's Allen Hurns and Seattle's Doug Baldwin.