Paxton Lynch makes his Broncos debut
By ARNIE STAPLETON
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Paxton Lynch got his first taste of what it's like being a quarterback in QB-crazed Denver on Friday.
When the Broncos opened a two-day rookie minicamp a dozen TV videographers, four still photographers and dozens of reporters were focused on the Memphis quarterback and latest SI cover-boy.
Oh, and John Elway.
The Hall of Fame QB still casts a long shadow over the position 17 years after he took his last snap and four years after he lured Peyton Manning to town, the hallmark of his six seasons as the team's GM.
With Manning hitting the links nowadays and longtime backup Brock Osweiler running Houston's offense, Elway grabbed his potential franchise QB in last week's draft, outmaneuvering Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a swap with Seattle to select Lynch 26th overall.
"Like I said before I even got a chance to be drafted, I would be blessed to be anywhere and now I'm here as a Bronco and I'm really excited," Lynch said. "I'm just really glad I got a practice under my belt."
Lynch was headed back to Memphis this weekend for graduation ceremonies, leaving the Broncos without a quarterback among their 39 rookies and first-year players for Saturday's pair of practices.
"We go to the wishbone tomorrow," cracked coach Gary Kubiak.
Lynch needs some seasoning as he adjusts to going under center and operating a pro offense after running the spread in college. It's widely expected he'll back up Mark Sanchez this year, although Elway said Lynch might adjust quicker than everyone expects.
Lynch called himself a quick study who can tap into his recollection of operating under center as a redshirt freshman. "So, now I'm just relearning," he said. "Obviously, it's different because it's the NFL. There's way more terminology, way more stuff you've got to know at the line."
It wasn't so strange practicing under center Friday "because training for the combine and all that I've been doing all under-center stuff," Lynch said.
Lynch looked clunky at times but he also showed off his strong arm with tight spirals to several receivers. His targets included Mose Frasier, an undrafted free agent from Memphis who already has a nice rhythm with Lynch and can give the coaches a sneak peek at what it'll look like when Lynch develops that rapport with other receivers.
"It's a whole new offense. It's an NFL offense, so there are going to be struggles with everybody," Lynch said. "But I felt like I knew what was going on. I just don't think I was picking it up as a fast as I should have, obviously. But that will come in time."
All in all, he called it a decent first day: "Obviously the timing's going to be off - I'm learning my footwork and they're learning their steps - but I thought I threw pretty good."
So did Kubiak, who said he thinks Lynch can "make up ground quickly."
"We've got a long way to go," Kubiak said. "But it's exciting to see a kid like that and what he can become."
What Lynch liked most his first practice was getting to take every snap. He'll have to share those with Sanchez and Trevor Siemian starting next week.
That's when it'll probably sink in, this situation he finds himself in.
"Whenever I get out there with the vets, it will feel for real," Lynch said.
Asked which veterans he's eager to meet, Lynch showed some lingering rough edges, offering unsolicited praise of Tom Brady for the second time in a week.
"I think it's going to be cool to see all those guys, especially guys you play against, like Tom Brady. As a kid you see him and you think about playing against him and then now you're going to get the opportunity," Lynch said.
Last week, Lynch said it was an honor to follow in the footsteps of Manning, calling him, "one of the greatest of all time - he and Brady."
He'll get no argument there; it's just that invoking the Patriots QB's name is something he'll probably learn not to do so often in Denver.
Lynch wore a white glove on his left (non-throwing) hand at his first practice but not as a tribute to Manning.
"I tried to wear some stuff at Memphis but Coach (Justin) Fuente was never a guy for the accessories," Lynch said. "It was in my locker, so I just put it on."
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Updated May 6, 2016