Denver’s defenders say the QB competition helps them, too

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris gives autographs to fans after drills at NFL football training camp Sunday, July 30, 2017, in Englewood. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD | Lorenzo Doss began and ended the Denver Broncos’ first padded practice Sunday with pick-6s, snaring a Paxton Lynch pass to start things off and snatching Trevor Siemian’s toss to end it.

“I always tell him he’s a four-leaf clover,” defensive coordinator Joe Woods said of the third-year cornerback with the penchant for being around the football.

In between Doss serving as an unlucky charm for Siemian and Lynch, the rest of the “No Fly Zone” secondary, Von Miller-led pass rush and Brandon Marshall-directed linebacker group continued to make it exceedingly difficult for either quarterback to shine in the NFL’s biggest position tussle this summer.

“Did I like what I saw?” coach Vance Joseph said, repeating the question. “Not really. Not really. Both guys had issues today. I didn’t like what I saw today. Honest, you know? They both struggled today. I didn’t like it.”

Cornerback Bradley Roby, who also picked off Lynch’s pass, said the defense prides itself on throwing thorns into this QB competition, suggesting with a shrug, “We don’t make any quarterback’s job easy.”

“I’m making it as hard as possible on both of them,” seconded strong safety T.J. Ward. “I’m not cutting anyone slack. I have no favorites in this race. I just want to see the best guy get the position, and I’m going to do everything I can to make each one of them better. That’s the beauty of this camp.”

What about Denver’s defense, though?

It always used to benefit from facing Peyton Manning every summer. Are there any advantages in facing two young quarterbacks in training camp who are so different in style and stature?

The opinions are mixed.

Joseph suggested that what hones his stout secondary are the matchups between his star cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib and standout receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. What polishes his linebackers is facing running back C.J. Anderson and what sharpens his pass rush is the refurbished offensive line.

Several defenders said they like facing the cerebral Siemian, with his furtive fastball, one minute and the next, the athletic Lynch, who keeps them guessing: tuck or toss?

“Iron sharpens iron. We make each other better,” Roby said. “We’ve been taking pride in pushing those guys and they’ve been pushing us as well.”

Each QB is trying to do what the other one does so well: Siemian is working on shaking his play-it-safe tendencies and going deeper downfield. Lynch is trying to better read formations and work the middle of the field more.

Harris said Siemian has a “Brett Favre-sling-it type of throw” and is good preparation for the pocket passers the Broncos will see this season. Nose tackle Domata Peko, said Lynch “runs like a deer once he gets outside the pocket,” providing a good example of the mobile QBs they’ll face.

“It really helps our defense to get different looks every day,” Peko said.

This audition will last a few weeks , and after a day such as Sunday, Thomas said neither quarterback should despair, but remember “we’re out here to learn and to get better. And it’s not always going to be easy, especially going up against those guys.”