ENGLEWOOD | Chad Kelly has a tenuous hold on the No. 2 quarterback job in Denver, and not because Paxton Lynch is making a push to regain the gig he lost to him this summer.
Kelly gets one more shot at showing he’s a worthy backup to starter Case Keenum when he starts the Broncos’ final preseason game Thursday night at Arizona.
Although he’s won over Broncos fans with a stellar summer, Kelly still has to convince general manager John Elway that it’s not necessary to scour the waiver wire for a more seasoned backup QB.
With Saturday’s cut-down deadline looming, Elway has some big decisions to make at quarterback:
—Is Kelly, who spent his rookie season on IR last year, ready to step in if needed after getting precious few snaps with the starters?
—And is it finally time to give up on the underachieving Lynch?
Elway moved up to grab Lynch with the 26th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. But the former Memphis QB was leapfrogged by Kelly this summer after failing to beat out another seventh-rounder, Trevor Siemian, for the starting job each of the last two summers.
Lynch is 1-3 in his NFL career and has regressed this summer. Last week at Washington, he was 3-of-7 for 39 yards against the Redskins’ third-stringers.
The Broncos solved one quarterback conundrum by signing Keenum in free agency, but they’re facing another as the preseason winds down.
“I would say right now Chad’s our 2 and he’s earned it. Right now, Paxton’s our 3,” coach Vance Joseph said Tuesday. “Obviously, we have a game to play on Thursday night. We’ll see after that how it shakes. But as we sit here now, Chad’s the 2 and Paxton’s the 3 and Case is the 1.”
Joseph, however, declined to speculate about the possibility of Lynch getting cut if that order remains in place.
“Those decisions are made over the weekend,” Joseph said. “We’re going to play this game on Thursday and have our staff and personnel meetings on Friday and Saturday and determine what’s best for the Broncos. That’s all I can tell you about that.”
Kelly insisted he wasn’t worried about his standing, saying he’s just excited about starting his first game since lining up one last time for Ole Miss in 2016.
“I’m looking at it to get better. I get to go out there the first series of the whole game and prove myself,” Kelly said. “… This is the last interview you have before the regular season starts and they break it down to 53 men.”
Lynch said he wasn’t fretting over his football future, either.
“I’m not worried about anything past the next day, which is tomorrow, we come out here and have our practice and then travel to Arizona and then have our meetings there. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m focused on going out and playing well on Thursday,” he said.
Lynch reiterated his hope of sticking with the Broncos, however.
“Absolutely, I love it here,” he said. “I’ve said that since Day 1, I wanted to be The Guy here. I’ve gone through some things. I’ve struggled. I haven’t played well at times. And at times I have played well and I’ve just got to find that consistency of constantly playing well and I know I can get there.”
Lynch said he can absolutely find that consistency on the scout team.
“If you get a chance to get reps out there, you can find a way to get better and especially against our defense,” Lynch said. “You know those guys are going to challenge you every day, so you can always work your craft.”
Lynch created a bit of stir last weekend when he posted a photo on social media of a “For Sale” sign, leading to speculation he was already preparing to leave Denver.
Turns out his girlfriend is a real estate agent.
“On my day off I was with my girlfriend and we were down in the Cherry Creek area and that’s where she has some houses listed and I just took a picture of it,” Lynch said. “I was proud of her. I’d never seen her name on a sign like that, so I just took a picture of it and it kind of got blown up a little bit.”
Notes: ILB Jerrol Garcia-Williams was carted off the field after sustaining a knee injury during 1-on-1 drills.