ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Those weren't trade winds blowing through Dove Valley.
On a blustery Monday when a 45-foot pine tree next to one of the team's practice fields was blown over by wind gusts that reached 70 mph, coach Josh McDaniels emphatically denied the Denver Broncos were trying to deal one of their four quarterbacks.
There has been speculation that the Broncos have considered trading starter Kyle Orton to make room for Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow or maybe even Tom Brandstater. But McDaniels said none of the Broncos' quarterbacks have been the subject of trade talks.
"There's not one quarterback on our roster that's been discussed or would be discussed at this point in any trade talks or anything else for that matter," McDaniels said. "We're going to let them compete, and the best guy is going to play."
McDaniels said there's still plenty of passes and evaluations to be made before the Broncos whittle their quarterback corps by one later this summer. There is an open competition for the starting job, with the incumbent Orton in the lead.
Although he has been in the Broncos' system longer than the others, Orton signed a one-year tender as a restricted free agent, and there are no talks on a long-term deal he covets.
In March, the Broncos traded for Quinn, the former Notre Dame star who never took off in Cleveland, and last month, they shocked the NFL with their first-round selection of Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion at Florida.
Star cornerback Champ Bailey, for one, has Orton's back.
"It's going to be a good battle, but I'll tell you what, Orton, I mean, until he shows anything different, he's my guy," Bailey said.
"He's a great professional," Bailey said. "He can make all the throws. He's smart. He goes about his business in a good way. I can appreciate that. And like I said, he was our guy last year. He played well for us, and until somebody unseats him, he's the one."
McDaniels' sentiments exactly.
"That's usually how it goes. The starter is the starter until somebody beats him out," McDaniels said. "Everybody earns their own role. The best player will play, that's all I'm saying. It doesn't matter if it's at defensive end, punter, quarterback, center. If he's the best player, he's playing.
"And right now, he's the best player," McDaniels added about Orton. "He's in there first in the huddle. He knows the most. Does that mean that that's a guarantee for this season? No, and he knows that. Every quarterback knows that. Every player knows it."
None of the quarterbacks looked good on Monday, their throws sailing high over receivers' heads or dying at their feet because of the 35- to 45-mph winds that the National Weather Service said gusted to 70 mph.
Some throws were spirals, others came in end-over-end. Punts were even more erratic, traveling 25 yards into the wind and 85 with it. Kicks? Those were really an adventure.
One time, Matt Prater lined up at the left hash mark on his 30-yard line with the portable goal posts 30 yards away on the other 40. The ball sailed through the narrow posts and continued slicing all the way to the end zone, where it struck the right out-of-bounds pylon.
Prater, who went to Central Florida, said this was the worst wind in which he'd ever kicked.
"Definitely, by far," he said. "In college, we had hurricanes. I kicked right before the storms came, but it was not anything like this because this is constant."
The winds were cold, too, which didn't help.
"I was trying to find somebody to hide behind, but I didn't have too much luck," outside linebacker Robert Ayers said.
Three-hundred-fifty-pound nose tackle Jamal Williams said it was easy for guys like him to play in high winds but not for teammates such as wide receiver Eddie Royal, who's generously listed at 180 pounds.
"I was lining up and the wind was blowing me off (the line)," Royal conceded. "So, if it had been a game, I might have had a few false-start penalties."
Despite all that, McDaniels called it a productive practice.
"I think there are certain things we can't do well in the wind in terms of punting or throwing or kicking the ball, but everything else for the most part in football you can," he said.
When the old pine tree toppled, McDaniels said he began to worry about his camera operator atop the 30-foot-high scissors lift, which swayed throughout the workout along with the goal posts. He didn't come down, however, until the workouts were over and the players hustled inside.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press