Kyle Orton Tabbed Broncos Starting Quarterback Over Tim Tebow, For Now
But the Broncos are not lining up for a game today and coach John Fox's endorsement Thursday of Orton as Denver's starter over Tim Tebow doesn't mean all that much at this point. Because in reality, neither Orton, nor Tebow nor Brady Quinn has been anointed as the Broncos' starter.
Fox, speaking at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, himself noted that he chose his words carefully in discussing Orton's place in the Broncos' quarterback hierarchy.
"I can't predict (who starts) Week 1. That's why I say, 'today,' " Fox said. "I don't think we'll really figure it out until we start competing."
Fox downplayed the possibility that Orton, who publicly raised the possibility of going elsewhere if he did not retain the starting job he has held for the last two seasons, would be traded away.
"As far as I'm concerned, he's under contract and he's our starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos," Fox said.
At the same time, Fox suggested there will be renewed competition for the job heading into next season and that Quinn, the team's third stringer last season, also figures in that equation.
Tebow started the final three games of the season after Orton injured his ribs and had a couple of bad outings in the midst of a very productive season last year.
Orton later voiced his displeasure at being supplanted by Tebow, suggesting he had been healthy enough to return for the last two games of the year and had done nothing in his play to merit losing his job.
In a way, Broncos vice president John Elway and Fox essentially agree with Orton, though they want him to prove it all over again in what shapes up as another training camp competition for the job, though summer workouts and even the season could be in limbo if labor uncertainty leads to a lockout.
Fox said he's very pleased with the quality of the Broncos' quarterback group as a whole.
"It's a group of three that I think is very capable," Fox said. "Right now, I think Kyle Orton is our starter. We have got a very young guy, a high draft pick in Tim Tebow that got his feet wet last year towards the end of the season and did an outstanding job."He's got some of those intangibles that your'e looking for . And ,shoot, Brady Quinn. I'm looking forward to seeing him play. He's a young guy that's got about 13 starts under his belt. We'll see, but all three, I'm excited about."
On other issues, Fox reiterated his commitment to shift the team's base defense to a 4-3 alignment from the 3-4. Fox favored the 4-3 scheme in his nine years as Carolina's coach.
"I have a comfort level with it. Our defensive staff has a comfort level with it," Fox said. "Most of your college teams have 4-3 defenses now. So it's a little bit easier to project (draft eligible players) in my opinion. ... I just think for me, in my experience, it's better for us to be 4-3."
Fox added that he has penciled in Robert Ayers as a defensive end, returning him to his natural position after playing at outside linebacker for the last two years in a 3-4. Elvis Dumervil, who missed last season with a torn chest muscle, also is being moved back to defensive end from outside linebacker.
"We're anxious to get him back. He's healthy," Fox said of Dumervil. "I see him as a defensive end. He played that the year before when he was healthy and had 17 sacks. He's a unique guy, excellent skills as far as rushing the passer. We're excited to get him back, first and foremost."