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QB Orton becoming a leader in Denver

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Alex Mayster

amayster@pfwmedia.com
Editorial assistant

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Posted Oct. 08, 2010 @ 9:40 a.m. ET
By Alex Mayster

Broncos QB Kyle Orton came back a different man this offseason and, after signing a contact extension in August that locks him up with the team through 2011, has a newfound sense of confidence.

The way we hear it, Orton has developed a high level of comfort in the offense, giving him the ability to make adjustments on the fly rather than waiting to review film the Monday after game day.

A source close to the team told PFW that for the first time in his career, people are beginning to truly believe in Orton and he is finally viewing the Broncos as "his team."

One believer is Broncos legend John Elway, who had nothing but good things to say about the 27-year-old Orton.

"Kyle has really come back," he said. "I'm really impressed with the way he has answered the bill, with the team bringing in Brady Quinn and all of that. For him to come back and react the way he has and become a better quarterback than he was last year, I'm really happy for Kyle."

Orton certainly has produced on the field. Through a quarter of the season, Orton threw for 1,419 yards and has yet to throw for less than 295 yards in a game.

His passing total is the second-highest in NFL history through the first four games of a season, with only QB Kurt Warner (1,557 in 2000) surpassing him.

But we hear Orton's off-the-field attitude is just as impressive.

Orton, who is starting for the same team two years in a row for the first time in his career, has begun taking over meetings. Instead of waiting for direction from coaches, the former Purdue star is the one addressing the offense.

The one area where Orton has struggled to find success is in the red zone, where Denver ranks near the bottom of the league in TD percentage (.350), scoring only seven touchdowns despite penetrating the opponent's 20-yard-line a league-high 20 times. It has been a thorn in the side of the offense, according to Elway.

"They have to figure out how to run the football," he said. "When the field is as open as it is between the 20s, it's easy to move it with the passing game that they have. Where it's supposed to be difficult is inside the 20s."

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