ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – The angst that permeated the Denver Broncos for two straight summers of quarterback competitions is noticeably absent from team headquarters this year.
Veteran Case Keenum is the unquestioned starter and that’s allowed the Broncos to install their offense without having to take different skillsets into account.
That certainty has had a ripple effect on the entire roster.
“That makes a huge difference, especially for the players, for your receivers, for your offensive line, hearing the same cadence every day, working with your same quarterback every day,” coach Vance Joseph said Thursday. “It’s huge for Billy (Musgrave) as a coordinator to build his system around one quarterback.
“Having Case as the starter has definitely helped matters.”
A more relaxed attitude that was evident all spring culminated with Von Miller wearing fake dreads under his helmet and again at the podium as the Broncos wrapped up their offseason program.
Fifty feet away, quarterback Paxton Lynch, the 2016 first-round draft pick who has started just four games in two years, displayed a fresh maturity in his first interview since being relegated to understudy duties in March.
“I was really excited actually when we got Case, for the fact that he’s a veteran guy who’s been through it a little bit. He’s had his ups and downs. But the way he carries himself and the way he handles himself, he’s a pro and that only benefits me and other guys in that locker room,” Lynch said.
While many fans may have given up on Lynch, general manager John Elway and Joseph are still his biggest boosters, suggesting he still has a bright future in the NFL.
“It means a lot, especially the head coach and the big guy upstairs, too, having my back,” Lynch said. “… Whenever I get the opportunity to go out there and take over, I’m going to be ready for that.”
Lynch’s confidence level remains high even after losing out to Trevor Siemian twice and now having to fend off Chad Kelly to win the No. 2 quarterback job in training camp. (Siemian is now the Vikings’ backup).
“There’s always room for improvement,” Lynch said after a spotty 7-on-7 drill Thursday. “I obviously believe that I can go out and play right now, but that’s not my job right now. Case is the guy and I’m doing everything I can to make myself better and make the team better.
“Obviously, I’m confident in what I can do and confident in my abilities. So, I’m hanging my hat on that.”
At the team’s final offseason practice, Miller donned the same disguise he wore recently while working as an undercover waiter at a upscale Denver steakhouse.
“It’s just the last day of camp, it’s just like the last day of school, so I try to mix it up, I lost a bet,” Miller said.
He wouldn’t divulge the nature of the wager.
“I can’t really talk about it, but I lost it,” Miller said. “And then I started thinking about it, man, it would be cool with dreads. Some of the best pass rushers in the league have dreads, Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney, so maybe that will rub off on me today.”
Miller had fun wearing the wig during an undercover appearance at Guard and Grace in Denver to promote the club’s “Taste of the Broncos” charity event later this summer
“I think after about like 20 minutes they knew it was me,” Miller said. “But at first, I was making guys mad, eating off peoples’ plates and taking shots with people. It was fun.”
Miller said he used to wear the wig out to dinner and to the movies to blend in.
“But now I’m busted,” he said. “Now I’ve got to switch it up.”
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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