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Broncos play 'name that quarterback'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The eight-game losing streak stopped a week and a half ago. The questions about the Denver Broncos' quarterback position have not.


And while the Broncos know Trevor Siemian won't start against Washington because he is on injured reserve, they don't know whether Paxton Lynch or Brock Osweiler will be under center for their Week 16 game.

Lynch and Osweiler split the repetitions during Wednesday's practice, which was Lynch's first since he suffered a high-ankle sprain at Oakland in Week 12.

"I anticipate (a decision) being at the end of the week," Broncos general manager John Elway told KDSP-AM 760 during his weekly radio interview Tuesday.

The uncertainty is something to which these Broncos have grown accustomed.

"It's normal now," running back C.J. Anderson said. "We'll know Friday, from what we were told. So I guess both quarterbacks will get reps. I guess it keeps the Redskins off-balance."

Lynch looked "OK" in Wednesday's practice, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said.

"His ankle looked OK -- not perfect -- but he practiced," Joseph said. "He started and finished practice."

"They're going to evaluate me," Lynch said of the Broncos' coaches and medical staff. "If they feel like I'm good enough to play, they'll make that decision. If not, I have to live with that. I'm just trying to control what I can control."

What Lynch has been able to control so far in his career has not gone well. In three career starts, he has led just two touchdown drives.

Lynch doesn't have momentum. Osweiler, on the other hand, does after posting a 147.7 passer rating in last week's win over the Indianapolis Colts. Still, he isn't worried about only splitting the repetitions.

"There are a lot of things that take place in this business that you can't control. I think the sooner you learn that, the better mindset you'll have towards situations like this," Osweiler said. "I support whatever the front office and coaches decide. I'm just here to work hard and play quarterback when my number is called."

That said, Osweiler aches to play and prove that last week's performance was more than an outlier.

"If my number gets called, I'll be ready to go," he said. "I'll be ready to lead this football team. That decision is out of my control."

SERIES HISTORY: 13th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 7-5. Teams have split the last four. Most historic meeting between these two teams was on Jan. 31, 1988, when the Redskins used a 35-point second quarter to defeat the Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII.

--Denver's offense has gradually found its identity since the Broncos promoted Bill Musgrave from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator to replace the dismissed Mike McCoy.

The Broncos have run the football more and used spread formations less often. They have played within themselves and, with the exception of a disastrous day in Miami, have done a better job of avoiding turnovers than they did in previous weeks.

The difference is so vast that quarterback Brock Osweiler referred to Musgrave's scheme as the "third offense" he has run this year, along with the McCoy-led scheme and the Browns offense he ran in Cleveland before being released at the end of the preseason.

What is different about Musgrave's scheme? Pretty much everything.

"Protections, run game, pass-concepts, tempo and a lot of different things," Osweiler said. "Bill is a different play-caller than Mike. Bill comes from a different origination of plays than Mike does. A lot of it is different."

So have been the results, at least in the last two games.

--Linebacker Shane Ray's season was doomed pretty much from the start.

He was never the same after tearing wrist ligaments during the first practice of training camp. From his attempt to practice the next day to the surgeries he underwent to recover from the injury to his return to the playing field despite being unable to do upper-body work in the weight room, Ray's third NFL season was defined by a determined attempt to scramble back to form despite circumstances working against him.

By the time he sat at his stall in the Broncos' locker room Monday, a hard cast on his left wrist, he was down to 225 pounds -- 15 to 18 below his ideal playing weight. He was never himself, and after undergoing a third procedure to remove screws from his wrist, his doomed season is over after eight games played and just one sack to show for his efforts.

Ray's work to get back nevertheless earned him praise from Broncos head coach Vance Joseph.

"He couldn't use his hand. He played with one hand," Joseph said. "He wasn't right all year. But, he tried to go for us. That was impressive by Shane."

Impressive, but still not a season that Ray wants to remember.

NOTES: CB Aqib Talib was named to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl on Tuesday -- and his fourth as a member of the Broncos. Talib is the first Bronco to make the Pro Bowl in his first four seasons with the team since John Lynch and Champ Bailey did so from 2004-07. ... OLB Von Miller will start for the AFC in the Pro Bowl. It will be Miller's sixth Pro Bowl selection in his seven-season career. Miller has made the Pro Bowl and finished with double-digit sacks in every season in which he has played at least 10 games. ... OLB Shane Ray was placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery to remove screws from his left wrist. Ray has been dealing with wrist issues since tearing ligaments in it on the first day of training camp. ... CB Michael Hunter was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster this week. Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said that other teams were pursuing Hunter, leading the Broncos to move him onto their active roster. ... NT Domata Peko was named as an alternate to the AFC Pro Bowl roster. If players back out and Peko is added to the Pro Bowl, he will make his first appearance in the game after 12 NFL seasons.

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