ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Rookie Paxton Lynch insists he shouldn't be counted out from the Denver Broncos' quarterback competition.
The first-round draft pick who labeled the playbook a dictionary when he first arrived in Denver this spring begins training camp Thursday looking up at Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian on the depth chart.
The Super Bowl champs are holding quarterback auditions after losing Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to free agency in the aftermath of their 24-10 win over Carolina in the Super Bowl.
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GM John Elway acquired Sanchez from the Eagles in a trade and moved up in the draft to select Lynch. The only holdover from last year is second-year pro Siemian, who has just one NFL snap on his resume but has been in this system the longest.
When the Broncos wrapped up their offseason program last month, coach Gary Kubiak said Sanchez and Siemian were neck-and-neck for the starting job after separating themselves from Lynch, the 26th overall draft pick out of Memphis.
Lynch, who is focusing on his footwork, insists he can make up that ground over the next several weeks.
“I definitely think I have an opportunity to better myself and put myself up in the position to play right away or sooner than I had thought,” Lynch said Tuesday.
“I knew Mark and Trevor were going to be ahead of me because of their experience — Trevor with his experience in the offense and Mark with his experience in the league — and me being a rookie.”
Lynch said he expected to be in this position as he transitions from the no-huddle, spread offense he operated at Memphis.
“This is the first time that I've seen a playbook like that, so I knew it was going to be tough and I knew I was going to be behind,” he said. “The biggest thing for me is just staying confident in myself, keep my head up, keep pushing through and keep grinding. It'll come to you eventually.
“From a competition standpoint, you're not just going to say, `Yeah, I'll take the back seat.' It's my job as a rookie to push those guys that are ahead of me however I can.”
Lynch and the rest of the rookie class reported to camp Monday. The veterans, including Sanchez, a six-year veteran, and Siemian report Wednesday with the first full-squad workout Thursday.
Lynch said getting all the snaps the past two days was difficult from a conditioning standpoint but “mentally getting those reps is really important.”
All three QBs cut short their summer vacations to prepare themselves for what Kubiak has said will be a high-pressure test to determine his starter when the Broncos begin defense of their title against the Panthers on Sept. 8 in Denver.