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Broncos' Kelly makes claim to No. 2 quarterback spot in preseason finale

Posted at 11:07 PM, Aug 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-31 01:21:49-04

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos boast no appearances on HGTV. They don't do rebuilds. The believe they will avoid back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1972. 

The preseason is over. The fourth game boasted players competing for scant roster jobs. Denver delivered a 21-10 win over Arizona behind a solid outing from Chad Kelly and Paxton Lynch's best performance since relief duty at Tampa Bay in his rookie season.

Taken together, they made a compelling argument for general manager John Elway to keep three quarterbacks with Kelly as the backup. Kelly (12-for-19, 126 yards) responded to adversity -- he threw an ugly pick into double coverage -- with a scoring drive and aggression. 

"He's our 2 right now," coach Vance Joseph said in his postgame interview.

Lynch played like a third-year, first-rounder should against third stringers in the second half. Which is to say he dominated (14 for 15 for 128 yards, two scores). Enough to keep him? Probably. 

Elway indicated on the broadcast he hasn't decided on whether he will go with two or three quarterbacks, though it is more likely it falls on the latter barring surprise quarterback appearances on the waiver wire. 

A look at the truths from the final exhibition game that left the Broncos 2-2 before hosting Seattle on Sept. 9:

1) Safety Su'a Cravens isn't going anywhere. He showed physicality and sought contact in his preseason debut, impressing Joseph. Depending how the roster shakes out, it would be nice to see the Broncos keep an extra safety to help out after key injuries on special teams. In other words, find a way for Dymonte Thomas to stick. 

2) Phillip Lindsay made quite an impression. He didn't play Thursday. He was a lock for the 53. Makes me wonder how he wasn't drafted. No matter. The Broncos could go with three running backs -- Devontae Booker, Royce Freeman and Lindsay. If there's a fourth, it will be De'Angelo Henderson, who increased his trade value Thursday, while making a case to stay. "He played inspired," coach Vance Joseph said on the broadcast after the game.

Elway's praise of Lindsay opened my eyes. "The grit that he has. We wish we had 53 guys like him. He’s 180 pounds. But plays 100 mph. I think he will be big on special teams and play some snaps on offense. Maybe 8-to-10 a game. If he can get in space he can help us."

3) Jeff Holland might be too good to let go. The Auburn outside linebacker applied pressure, created disruptions. A fifth outside linebacker is not a necessity in the micro view. In the macro, I say yes. Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray face uncertain futures. It would make sense to have Holland, especially for 2019.

4) There will be a tough choice for the third tight end. Brian Parker is a better blocker than Matt LaCosse. But LaCosse has good hands, as evidenced by his nifty touchdown. 

5) Adam Jones should help the secondary. Joseph said he's "on the right track." Jones showed he can play special teams in the return game. And it will allow a slower development for rookie Isaac Yiadom. 

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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at