CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The text arrived as Trevor Siemian reached an intersection in life. He had blown out his left knee in November 2014 at Purdue. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald picked up the phone and typed encouragement.
"This isn't your last game," Fitzgerald wrote.
Siemian was thinking short term, that somehow his knee would magically heal and this college career would end in a bowl game with a locker room of guys who "truly cared about each other." Fitzgerald took the long view.
"I thought his best football was ahead of him in the NFL," Fitzgerald told Denver7. "I felt strongly that Trevor was going to gain size and keep improving."
Following the season, Siemian came closer than he'd like to admit to leaving the game. He spoke with family, friends, teammates and coaches. Fitzgerald advised him to pursue his dream.
"What's the worst thing that can happen, 'You don't get invited to a camp? Or get cut?'" Fitzgerald said. "I said, 'If you were one of my sons, I'd advise you to keep playing.'"
Siemian pushed on, impressing the Broncos and quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp in a workout four months removed from ACL surgery. Monday he went from a 2015 seventh-round pick to a co-No. 1 on the Broncos depth chart. Praised for his even demeanor and work ethic.
"He's humble and unflappable," former Northwestern center Brandon Vitable told Denver7.
Siemian didn't read too much into the rankings, but admitted he believes he can claim the spot.
"Absolutely, to answer the question, I think I can win the job. I am trying not to do too much. I am trying to stay within myself, and I think that’s good enough," Siemian said. "I would have not changed mindset much if I was one or two. That's one of the things out of my control. It’s awesome to be up there with Mark. I think we have been pushing each other all camp."
Coach Gary Kubiak indicated he would name a starter Tuesday for Thursday's preseason opener at Chicago. The feeling is that the player who doesn't start will get the opportunity in the second game Aug. 20 against San Francisco.
"Nothing has changed at quarterback. Mark and Trevor continue to split reps with the first group. (Paxton) Lynch is behind those guys," Kubiak said Monday. "That is the way we are working it. We will make that decision (on the starter) on (Tuesday). They are all going to play."
Sanchez appeared to enter camp with a slight edge after working with receivers multiple times following OTAs. However, he has struggled against the Broncos' "No Fly Zone" secondary. Monday, cornerback Bradley Roby produced a pick-six of Sanchez for the second consecutive practice.
"I think this is the time you really need to attack the defense and figure out where you can put the ball. And we are playing against some of the best (defensive backs) in the league," Sanchez said. "Roby (has) been making some really great plays out there. That's good ... even if a guy's open, he's not open for long. Not against (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips') defense. It's only going to help us."
The Broncos offense hummed in the first hour of practice before getting devoured. The revamped offensive line provided little time for the the quarterbacks to throw as Derek Wolfe and Vance Walker provided pressure. Injuries have created shuffling upfront. Michael Schofield, listed at co-starter at right guard, played right tackle with Donald Stephenson (left calf) limited. The guard positions remain in flux with injured Ty Sambrailo (hyper-extended right elbow) out and left guard Max Garcia regaining his footing after rolling his ankle.
Going against a new opponent should help the grunts and the quarterbacks. Fake games, after all, can provide real impressions and it starts Thursday at Chicago.
"I am looking forward to it," Siemian said. "The games will be big time (in the evaluation)."