By Arnie Stapleton, AP pro football writer
ENGLEWOOD — Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch both get to show off their closing skills now.
Siemian can close out the Denver Broncos’ QB competition this week and next.
Lynch can close in on Siemian in exhibition games at Chicago and San Francisco sandwiched around a pair of practices with the 49ers.
While offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said everything is being factored into the equation, from questions the two QBs ask in the film room to the way they led the team at practice over the first 11 days of training camp, “you really look at the games.”
After a slow start, Siemian started to separate himself from Lynch over the last week as he strung together better decisions, coverage reads and pinpoint throws while Lynch struggled to find both consistency and his receivers and kept making mistakes, like throwing the ball away on fourth down when Emmanuel Sanders was covered in the end zone.
Siemian will start Thursday night against the Bears and play up to a quarter and a half. Paxton, who will start against the 49ers, will get the next quarter and a half and undrafted rookie Kyle Sloter will finish up.
That’s more work than front-line starting QBs usually get in the first exhibition games but coach Vance Joseph wants to get a bigger sample size of his quarterbacks’ work under pressure.
“I just look at it as I’m glad we’re not playing our guys,” Siemian said Tuesday. “So, it’ll be good to play against a different group. Hopefully, Paxton and I can find a little rhythm.”
Both quarterbacks have had a tough time getting into a good groove while learning McCoy’s new offensive scheme and facing a defense led by All-Pros Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and Von Miller.
“Golly, it’s a pain in the butt throwing against Chris, Talib, all those guys, all the time,” said Siemian, who nonetheless has started to tighten his grip on the starting job.
“Probably a week or so (ago) I just felt a little more comfortable, like things were clicking for me and I got a big-picture thought of how we’re trying to attack scheme and defenses,” Siemian said, adding he’s also getting a better feel for his receivers. “I think we’re all in a good spot right now.”
Lynch is, too, considering that Joseph insisted this week that the competition is only heating up with the onset of preseason games.
After starting out training camp strong, Lynch began making more and more mistakes with each new wrinkle the staff installed on offense.
McCoy, however, noted that sometimes it’s easy to fault the quarterback when it’s actually a receiver who bungled things, and while “it may not always look perfect … I’m very pleased with the way our quarterbacks are growing in our system.”
These first two preseason games will provide Lynch with a more bite-sized portion of the playbook, too.
“Now that we’re about to play a team and actually game plan a little bit for them, it kind of cuts it down and you can focus in on a little more specific stuff,” Lynch said.
Notes: RB Jamaal Charles, C Matt Paradis and ILB Todd Davis (shoulder) won’t play at Chicago. … Joseph said both his coordinators will work the sideline with him this season rather than call plays from the booth. …
While rookie Isaiah McKenzie has already won the punt return job, the kick return job is up for grabs and Cody Latimer gets first crack, said special teams coordinator Brock Olivo.