CHICAGO — An hour before kickoff Thursday, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch trotted out onto Soldier Field to warm up, setting up shop at the 20-yard line in front of a swath of fans who quickly pulled out camera phones and dangled photos for signatures.
In the center stood a young girl donning an orange No. 18 Manning jersey. At her side was an older man wearing John Elway’s No. 7. There was no No. 13. No 12, either. No sign of the Broncos’ future.
Thursday’s preseason opener — a 24-17 win over the Bears — put them one step closer to finding him.
Siemian, as planned by first-year head coach Vance Joseph, started and played 19 plays before handing the reins to Lynch midway through the second quarter. Kyle Sloter closed out the final quarter and was the only one of the three quarterbacks to throw a touchdown pass.
“I was satisfied,” Joseph said. “Trevor was solid. He made some nice plays in the pass game. Paxton had some. Ice plays but we had so many penalties. … It hurt his drives. That’s why he played more. But overall it was a solid performance.”
While eyes were on the quarterbacks, the victory highlighted many persistent issues on offense for Denver — notably protection problems and penalties (10 total) — with only 144 net yards and a 13 percent conversion rate on third downs when Siemian and Lynch played.
Siemian began with a seven-point cushion, thanks to Chris Harris’ pick-six on the third play of the game, and went 6-of-7 in passing for 51 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions for a passer rating of 97.0. He was sacked once — on the first play — as Leonard Floyd flew around right tackle Menelik Watson for the takedown as…
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