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Paxton Lynch sharp in Broncos' OTA practice

With 11 defensive guys running around, Lynch found the open receiver and threw the ball accurately during OTA practice Tuesday.
Paxton Lynch scrambles against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 31, 2017. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images.

ENGLEWOOD – John Elway hung in there with Paxton Lynch and dang if Broncos fans knew why.

The Bronco’s organized team activity (OTA) practice Tuesday was why.

Lynch looked good. Really good.

There was no pass rush. No one was in pads. But Lynch didn’t practice this well during OTAs last year.

With 11 defensive guys running around, Lynch found the open receiver and threw the ball accurately.

“I’m proud of Paxton,’’ Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said Tuesday. “Paxton’s worked hard. He’s not relaxing. He’s competing. He’s not relaxing.’’

The “relaxing” reference was Joseph dishing a barb to the local media for twisting the intent of his answer on Lynch two weeks ago.

“For Paxton and our football team it’s been a weight off all of our backs to have a starting quarterback,’’ Joseph said in reference to Case Keenum on May 12. “For Paxton, he can relax and get better each day without worrying about a competition.’’

The last comment didn’t go over well with the masses. Lynch hadn’t done much in the two seasons since he was the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in 2016, and the team's followers wanted him to fight, scratch, and throw passes morning, noon and night until he became a productive quarterback.

Not relax.

What Joseph meant was Lynch could work on getting better with his fundamentals, study defensive tendencies and practice timing with his receivers without the pressure of trying to win the starting job.

Sometimes putting all effort into starting can hinder development. That’s what Joseph meant. It just came out, or was taken wrong, is all.

Elway, the Broncos’ general manager, dispatched the primary quarterbacks from last season in Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler. And though Elway signed Keenum to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback for this season and possibly the next, he didn’t draft another quarterback in the first round.

Bringing in another young gun would have doomed Lynch in Denver. Instead, Elway is giving Lynch at least one more year to develop.

Back to Tuesday.

“He wants to be a great player,’’ Joseph said. “He’s a young player that’s getting better and better every single day. I was with Alex Smith in his third year (with San Francisco in 2007) and it wasn’t pretty.

“But now you’d take Alex, right? (Lynch) just needs time to work on his craft. Obviously, he’s a rare talent. Again, he’s 6-5, big arm. It’s a rare talent.’’

It does appear Lynch has taken a noticeable leap of improvement since his lowest days in 2017.

“He took a leap last year from training camp to week 17 against the Chiefs,’’ Joseph said. “That game I was impressed with how he played.’’

Lynch threw for two touchdowns and 254 yards and engineered a game-tying touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. He also threw two interceptions and was sacked five times by a Chiefs’ team that rested 10 of its defensive starters in the Broncos’ 27-24 loss.

Still, Lynch played with increasing confidence and threw with authority as the game went along.

Keenum and No. 3 quarterback Chad Kelly also looked good Tuesday. Keenum hit Demaryius Thomas on a deep ball and Chad Kelly connected with DaeSean Hamilton for a long touchdown.

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