ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Chad Kelly outshined Paxton Lynch in the Denver Broncos’ scrimmage Sunday, and that might have earned him work with the No. 2 offense in his quest to win the backup job behind Case Keenum.
“Yeah, he looked good,” coach Vance Joseph said after watching Kelly throw two touchdown passes in a five-play span following Lynch’s erratic performance that included a sack and a near interception.
Asked if Kelly will get a “promotion” to working with the 2s, Joseph said, “It hasn’t happened yet. It could happen in the future.”
Still, Kelly, a seventh-round pick out of Ole Miss in 2017 who sat out his rookie season with knee and wrist injuries, has looked significantly sharper than the error-prone Lynch, the 2016 first-round draft pick from Memphis who failed to beat out another seventh-rounder, Trevor Siemian, in 2016 and ’17.
“He’s a playmaker,” Joseph said of Kelly. “He’s always been a playmaker. You watch his college tape two years ago, he just makes plays. He doesn’t always look pretty, but he just makes plays.”
After Keenum’s signing this spring, Joseph said Lynch should benefit by sitting back and learning from Keenum rather than fighting for the starting job as he had the last two summers.
“It’s definitely helped him, just watching every day how Case prepares for practice,” Joseph said Sunday. “He’s gotten better from that. And half of his job is between the ears. So the better he gets there, the better he’s going to play quarterback for us.”
Asked what he felt Lynch had learned from him, Keenum said, “That’s probably a better question for him,” but added, “I think he’s doing a great job getting the ball out, a big, tall guy, he’s got a strong arm and he knows where to go with the football a lot of times and he’s learning from his mistakes, just like we all are.”
Lynch was the only QB who didn’t stop to talk with the media after the scrimmage, and the team said he’d address reporters for the first time at camp on Tuesday following the players’ day off.
Kelly declined to lobby for snaps with the No. 2 offense.
“No, I’ve just got to keep on performing to the best of my ability, execute whatever play is called and find the open guy and bring my team down the field, whether it’s with the 1s, 2s or 3s,” Kelly said. “I’m focused on trying to get better in the classroom and out here on the football field.”
Keenum didn’t get into the end zone in his dozen snaps at the scrimmage, but he did move the chains against Denver’s No. 1 defense.
“He was good. You know we have a really good defense and when you turn on the lights and have a real pass rush, that’s a top-5 defense. So, I’m not surprised,” Joseph said. “And it’s been more competitive this year than it was last year offensively. They’ve won more days than they won last year at training camp.
“So, I am not down on the offense at all.”
Neither is star cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who said, “Our offense is way better than they were last year, with Case under center. He’s throwing great balls. He’s had great accuracy all camp. He’s improved from the OTAs. When I watch film, the (first) offense is doing something totally different than the (second) offense.
“It’s like they’re a level 10 and everybody else is a level way lower. So, Case and them are clicking right now and I expect them to put up points. I don’t see anybody really just shutting them down with the receivers that we got, and our O-line is way better. So, I see them putting up points, at least 30 a game.”
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Keenum said he figures to get a better sense of the Broncos’ offense once the preseason gets here and it’s not just situational drills he’s running.
The Broncos open their exhibition schedule Saturday night against Keenum’s old team, the Minnesota Vikings, where Siemian is now backing up Kirk Cousins.
NOTES: In addition to C Matt Paradis (illness) and TE Jeff Heuerman (knee), LT Ronald Leary (knee) and DT Matt Gotsis (ankle) were held out of the scrimmage as a precaution.
By ARNIE STAPLETON
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