Broncos' Kubiak isn't fretting over 3-way QB competition

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ENGLEWOOD, COLO. >> The Denver Broncos have featured uncertainty under center for more than six months now.

It began in November when Peyton Manning hobbled to the sideline with a foot injury, the latest victim of the truism that time wounds all heels. The quarterback chaos continued into the playoffs and has dominated Denver's airwaves all offseason.

Coach Gary Kubiak appears utterly unfazed by it all as he auditions Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch to lead the Super Bowl champs in 2016.

He's in no hurry to name his starter, content to split snaps into thirds and head into training camp next month with a three-way tryout, abiding some clunky practices on offense until the situation is settled.

Players say they're not fretting and fans shouldn't, either. After all, Kubiak so masterfully managed the minefields of his QB quandary last season that a tour of the White House is on tap for Monday.

"We're not worried," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. "We've still got time."

In the glow of Denver's defense-fueled 24-10 win over Carolina in the Super Bowl, general manager John Elway praised Kubiak's deft handling of the sticky quarterback situation, when he benched Manning down the stretch and sat Brock Osweiler for the playoffs.

"We wouldn't have done what we did without both of those guys," Elway said. "They're both to be commended and ultimately, it was Gary making that call as far as what his gut told him to do. To me, those are the types of things that take head coaches from good to great. They have that ability to make that call and Gary made that call."

Of course, Osweiler's next move was to leave the Broncos for Houston's four-year, $72 million deal, throwing Elway's line-of-succession plans into the trash.

Elway quickly acquired Sanchez, who is in the final year of his deal that pays him $5 million next year, from Philadelphia. At the time, Elway called Sanchez, who hasn't been a full-time starter since 2012, the "first step in this process."

Then, Elway tried to acquire Colin Kaepernick at both a discount and a rebate and was spurned on both fronts as Kaepernick declined to take a pay cut and the San Francisco 49ers refused to eat some of his contract to facilitate a trade.

So, on draft night Elway outmaneuvered Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to move up in a deal with Seattle and acquire his potential franchise quarterback.

Ideally, Lynch would sit a year as he adjusts from the spread offense he ran at Memphis to Kubiak's West Coast offense. He's working on his footwork and cramming mentally, saying it's "pretty overwhelming just because it was the first time I've seen a playbook that looked like a dictionary."

Still, Elway isn't dismissing the notion that Lynch will prove a quick study and win the job in August.

Sanchez had a two-month head start, but then a weight room mishap sent him to Vail, Colorado, for surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and he was unable to take snaps during the first week of OTAs.

That's opened the door for Siemian, who has looked the sharpest so far.

You'd think with 72 career starts and several playoff wins, Sanchez would be the one tutoring the youngsters. But that's not really the case.

"That's an interesting dynamic," Kubiak said. "Mark is the guy with the experience, but he has no experience here. He's got his own problems right now of getting everything down."

So, Siemian, who's been in Kubiak's system the longest, soaked in a year's worth of watching Manning and Osweiler and was the backup for two months last season, finds himself in the unusual position of being the QB providing guidance despite never throwing a pass in the pros.

A lot of times teams say they have a quarterback competition but that's really for show because there's clearly a front-runner or a favored candidate. That's not the case in Denver.

"It is different," Kubiak said. "It's unusual for the most part in this league. But I think we have a good situation, too, because I see three really good football players. ... What I'm trying to do is make sure I walk off the field every day where they've each got 40 reps or whatever and I can sit down and take a look at where they're at and how they're doing because I know the team is looking at the same thing."

Splitting snaps with three quarterbacks has ripple effects. Not all of them can work behind the starting O-line and throw to Emmanuel Sanders and Thomas while facing Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib.

"I know that's hard," Kubiak said, "but that's what we need to do right now to get to where we need to go."

They say when you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. So, what about when you have three?

"These guys are going to be fine," Thomas said. "Sanchez has won playoff games. I can't say much about Paxton and Trevor, but they've been great so far. We'll be fine. We've got play-makers around. The coaches will put them in the right situation. Of course we've still got our great D. It won't be too bad."

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP—NFL

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton


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