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There is no quarterback competition in Denver, so we've been told, but the Broncos gave incumbent starter Kyle Orton a bit of a push with the acquisition of Brady Quinn on March 14.
Reports indicate head coach Josh McDaniels called Orton shortly after trading RB Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth-round pick and a conditional late-round pick in 2012 for Quinn to tell Orton he's still the starter, but there long have been doubts about the Broncos' commitment to Orton beyond next season. Orton is a restricted free agent and has received a one-year first-round tender that he is expected to sign. Quinn signed a five-year deal as a rookie with the Browns in '07.
If Orton, who faded down the stretch after starting strong last season, gets off to a slow start in '10, the calls for Quinn to play likely will begin in Denver. Quinn, however, didn't give observers hope that he was on the verge of breaking out as he struggled mightily in Cleveland, and taking at least one year to watch and learn in a new system would no doubt benefit the 25-year-old.
Just a few weeks ago at the NFL Scouting Combine, McDaniels stressed that Orton is still learning that system and is growing more comfortable as time goes by.
"I think any time you take a player at the quarterback position and ask him to do a lot mentally and physically (it's difficult)," McDaniels said. "(Orton) hasn't even been in our system a year still, it won't be until April until that first year comes around. … That's our hope and desire is that our quarterback does whatever's best on that play, that he just does it on his own. That's obviously what we're teaching him. I think at that quarterback position, time and experience is going to help him. He certainly throws the ball accurately, he does a lot of the things we expect well and we're working to improve on a lot of those things as well."
Orton is no stranger to close scrutiny, having faced it in his tenure with the Broncos and at times during his four years with the Bears. Dealing for Quinn gives McDaniels a project to mold and makes Orton's seat a few degrees warmer than it was when Chris Simms was backing him up.
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