Orton getting all the snaps with 1st-team offense
Reports of Kyle Orton’s departure have gotten nearly as much
mileage as the Toyota Prius the Broncos quarterback drives.
Looks like it’s time to hit the brakes.
Orton continues to practice exclusively with the first team at
Denver’s training camp, while backup Tim Tebow, the anticipated
challenger for the starting job, has yet to run a single play
behind the No. 1 offensive line. Team periods often consist of the
offense broken up into two groups.
The regulars go to one field, the reserves another. Orton and
third-string QB Brady Quinn lead the former group; Tebow the
That doesn’t even take into account that Orton has thrown the
ball confidently and accurately, and has looked the part of a
starting NFL signal-caller much more than either Tebow or
So, while Orton hasn’t been told he tops the depth chart,
nothing really needs to be said, except possibly an apology for
those Miami Dolphins trade talks.
”It’s out there. It’s not in the building,” Orton said
Thursday of the rumor mill surrounding his status. ”It’s business
as usual. Guys know how to handle this stuff, and that’s just the
way it is.”
The Denver’s three-tiered power structure in the front office –
GM Brian Xanders, executive VP of football operations John Elway
and new head coach John Fox – have stated since January that Orton
would top the depth chart until proven otherwise.
What’s caused the stir is Tebow’s off-the-charts popularity with
fans, who clearly embrace him as the No. 1 QB regardless of Orton’s
high level of play. The other factor were the Dolphins trade
On Day 1 of camp, Orton drove away and there was uncertainty
whether he’d return for the team’s first official meeting a few
hours later. But the discussions with the Dolphins never
progressed, either because Denver’s was seeking too much or the
Dolphins were concerned about having to revamp Orton’s contract –
in the $9 million range for 2011 – into a longer term deal with
The fallout from those talks continues at Miami’s training camp,
where Dolphins fans have chanted Orton’s name to demonstrate their
unhappiness with Chad Henne.
”My story’s been the same regardless of what you hear,” Fox
said earlier this week. ”And I’m in those meetings every day and
know what’s said to everybody. Nothing’s changed. We’ve been
singing the same song as seven months ago.”
That is, the competition will be ongoing and no starter named
until a clear winner emerges through preseason games.
All Orton has done is put the uncertainty aside and thrown the
ball with confidence and accuracy, while continuing to win over
veteran teammates who might not take lightly to a switch to Tebow
if the level of the two quarterbacks’ play continues down the same
”I haven’t been told anything,” Orton said. ”That’s how I go
about it. And I just let my play speak for itself on the football
field. I feel like I’m playing good football right now. I’ve made
some strides in the offseason and I’m excited to get on the field
to lead this team to more wins this season.”
Tebow subbed for an injured Orton for the final three games last
season, providing a sample of his competitive swagger and unmatched
popularity. But lost in translation was that Orton, despite his
team’s struggle to win games, had been throwing the ball at a
career clip. He finished with a 58.8 percent completion percentage
in 13 games, throwing for 20 TDs and 3,653 yards to go with nine
interceptions before sitting out December.
”Some of the changes that are being made are going to help us
in the run game and protection wise,” Orton said. ”And, like I
said, I think we can throw the ball against anybody. We’ve got guys
that can get open and get the ball to them. I think if we can
improve in those areas, we’re going to be a tough offense to
More difficult to curtail are the calls for Tebow, who draws the
most buzz at Dove Valley. He’s taking the second-team snaps ahead
of Quinn, but hasn’t matched Orton’s accuracy or pocket
Tebow and Orton aren’t close and don’t spend much time
chit-chatting. For Orton, it’s strictly business.
”When you step between the lines, that’s your job to lead the
football team and work hard and practice like you want everybody
else to,” he said. ”That’s the way I’ve gone about it.”