ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Paxton Lynch has a good chance of being active for the first time this season when the Denver Broncos face the Cincinnati Bengals.
Brock Osweiler will make his third start for the Broncos (3-6), but coach Vance Joseph for the first time left open the possibility that Lynch would leapfrog Trevor Siemian as the backup.
"That's still being discussed," Joseph said Friday. "But he practiced all week. He looked fine, so we'll see."
Joseph said he won't activate all three of his quarterbacks, however.
"It's two quarterbacks that are going to be up," Joseph said. "The determining factors will be how well we thought Paxton practiced this week. That's pretty much it. He could be up."
Lynch has gradually worked his way back from a sprained throwing shoulder he suffered in the preseason and this week took some of the first-team snaps for the first time since losing out to Siemian in the team's QB competition.
Siemian was benched in favour of Osweiler three weeks ago after committing too many turnovers.
TIGHT END PUZZLE: Joseph has some decisions to make at tight end after ruling out Jeff Heuerman (knee) and A.J. Derby (shoulder), leaving Virgil Green as his only healthy tight end on the roster.
Joseph could promote one of his two tight ends on his practice squad, Austin Traylor and Brian Parker, or he could adjust his formations and personnel Sunday if he decides against a roster move.
"We have to figure out a solution there, whether it's going to be a tackle playing a big tight end for us or bringing someone up," Joseph said.
Although swing tackle Donald Stephenson (calf) was limited all week, he's one possibility.
"Yes, he's practiced all week and he should be up and running for the game," said Joseph, who added that guard Allen Barbre will make a second straight start at right tackle.
OLIVO UNDERSTANDS: Special teams co-ordinator Brock Olivo said the Broncos got back to fundamentals after a series of gaffes in the kicking game led to 24 points by the Patriots on Sunday night.
"It wasn't easy. Just had a bunch of breakdowns across the board. It was the perfect storm, mostly fundamental breakdowns that can be fixed," Olivo said. "I'm responsible for the performance on the field and my players also know that they're responsible for playing better, as well. So, we went in and watched the film on Monday and had a heart to heart and decided we're going to fix this thing and move forward."
One big change was benching rookie punt returner Isaiah McKenzie, who has five fumbles and hasn't learned when to call for a fair catch. He was supplanted by receiver Jordan Taylor.
"Nobody feels worse than Isaiah right now," Olivo said. "A lot of times a rookie returner will have a muff and then he gets snakes in his head and then he thinks he's got to make up for that by making plays and you've got to pick and choose your moments in the NFL. You're not going to be able to make a play every time you're out there. Sometimes you've got to fair catch.
"So, he's learning there. And it's a learning curve and in the long run this will serve him and us well."
Olivo said Brandon McManus got too much underneath the ball on Dion Lewis' 103-yard touchdown kickoff return.
"He was trying to kick a touchback there, no question," Olivo said. "But it's not as easy as it looks sometimes and he got underneath it. The bottom line is we have to cover the kick. We have to get off blocks."
Two reinforcements on coverage are recently signed linebackers Joseph Jones and Deiontrez Mount.
Olivo said he deserves all the vitriol directed his way from exasperated Broncos fans this week "because it was a deplorable performance and this place has a high standard."
"That's why I love being here, because it does have a high standard," Olivo said. "You don't want to be in a place where mediocrity is accepted. Nobody wants that. And so this place is known for its Hall of Famers and its Super Bowls. And I have to live up to that level, no question. So, no I'm not surprised by the vitriol and in fact, I deserved it, I need it, it'll get us better. It'll make us better."
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