CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- When it comes to the Broncos quarterback position, no detail remains too small. Like, say, the ability to throw the football?
Newly-minted starter Trevor Siemian tossed passes Wednesday as his right shoulder improved. He logged about 80 percent of his normal workload, according to coach Gary Kubiak. Siemian's progress leaves him in line to start Saturday and secure the opening-day job. Siemian hurt the shoulder last Saturday when he fell awkwardly on a missed tackle attempt following Eric Reid's pick-six interception.
"You never want to be dealing with a bum shoulder, but it's not too bad and it's getting better everyday," Siemian said.
Siemian placed himself in this position with consistency since March. He completed 10 of 14 passes against San Francisco, leading the Broncos on a scoring drive in their first possession.
"Playing quarterback in the NFL, there's pressure. It's part of the business," Kubiak said. "I want them to go out there and cut it loose. You have to own your mistakes and correct your mistakes. My evaluation is coming from about the last since months. It's not coming from one day or one game."
Siemian met the media Wednesday and displayed the unflappable nature praised by college and pro teammates. The moment doesn't seem to big for him. He is on the verge of becoming only the third Northwestern quarterback to start an NFL regular season game, and the first to start an opener since Otto Graham in 1955, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Yet, you'd have thought Wednesday when discussing this opportunity Siemian was talking about facing Indiana in Bloomington.
"I am not reading too much into this to be honest with you," said Siemian, who is looking to become the first Northwestern quarterback to start any NFL game since Randy Dean with the New York Giants on Sept. 23, 1979. "I think (I am ready to be the starter). I think all of us are. That's been our mindset the whole way. It's a good environment. We are doing a job of pushing each other."
Siemian showed zip on short routes, but clearly and purposefully wasn't throwing deep or airing it out on passes down the field. Kubiak said he plans to play his starters more than a half against the Los Angeles Rams. The third game is considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Kubiak did not reveal who will follow Siemian in the game. Rookie Paxton Lynch and veteran Mark Sanchez shared some first-team reps Wednesday. Lynch also worked with the scout team and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett made a leaping interception against him.
"I wasn't really surprised that Trevor got the start. He played a little bit, but kind of of got hurt and had to come out early. So I think they want to get more reps," Lynch said. "I was pretty pleased with how I played, but there are some small things like footwork that I need to clean up."
Sanchez refuses to surrender, even as he looks like a longshot in this competition. He is fighting for a roster spot because his $4.5 million salary is steep for a backup if Lynch is ready, and the Broncos don't have to surrender a seventh-round pick to Philadelphia if Sanchez fails to make the cut
"There's no quit in me. I am prepared to take this down to the wire," said Sanchez, who lost ground in the race with two red zone fumbles against San Francisco. "I have to keep competing."
The Broncos have thrown more than any team in the preseason, but could look to establish the ground game this week. Kubiak remains encouraged by the offensive line, which will feature a long stint by left tackle Russell Okung this week. Right guard features a vacancy with Darrion Weems in the concussion protocol. In his absence, Michael Schofield has been running with the first team followed by rookie McGovern.
Wolfe is still out
Defensive end Derek Wolfe missed his second-straight day to tend to a family matter, according to Kubiak. He might need a few more days, so it's unclear when he will return this week. Cornerback Aqib Talib (illness) and linebacker Dekoda Watson (personal issue) returned to practice.
Backup center James Ferentz had knee surgery and will miss a couple of weeks. ... Receiver Bennie Fowler removed the brace on his right elbow. He began running hills on Wednesday, and Kubiak believes there's a chance Fowler will be ready for the season-opener. Fowler, who broke a bone in his elbow in the preseason opener, hoped to play in the final preseason game, but that appears unlikely. ... Broncos general manager John Elway was appointed to the NFL's competition committee, which helps with rule changes. ... Broncos special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said the race for the starting punting job between Britton Colquitt and Riley Dixon remains close. ... DeCamillis admitted he was disappointed with the Broncos return game last week.