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Chad Kelly jumps Paxton Lynch on Broncos' depth chart

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Paxton Lynch has hit a stumbling block in his battle to keep the Denver Broncos' backup quarterback job.

The 2016 first-round selection was demoted to the third-team offense in Monday's practice on the heels of an abysmal performance in the preseason opener. Lynch completed six of 11 passes for just 24 yards and an interception versus the Vikings' second-team defense, paling in comparison to Chad Kelly's 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 21 attempts.

"Chad has played well," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "He played well in the scrimmage and he played well Saturday night, so he deserves a chance to be the two right now."

It was no surprise, then, to see Kelly first in line behind starter Case Keenum on Monday. A 2017 seventh-round pick, Kelly missed his entire rookie season after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his throwing wrist.

The former Ole Miss star has a long windup, but isn't shy about attacking downfield or pulling the trigger on tight-window throws. The nephew of Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly, he would have been off the board long before the last pick of the 2017 draft if not for the wrist injury and off-the-field question marks.

Now that Kelly is in the driver's seat for the No. 2 job, it's natural to wonder if Lynch is living on borrowed time in Denver.

Emphasizing that Lynch was drafted as a developmental project, general manager John Elway insisted this offseason that the Broncos will not be "kicking him to curb." By the end of the month when rosters are chopped down to 53, however, that may be a luxury Elway can no longer afford. Most teams prefer to carry just two quarterbacks into the regular season, giving them more flexibility for special teams.

If Lynch doesn't survive final cuts, it will be interesting to see if the Cowboys put in a waiver claim. Dallas owner Jerry Jones immediately regretted his refusal to pay a premium in a draft-day trade, allowing Elway to swoop in and snag the Memphis signal-caller at the back end of the first round.

If Jones is interested in acquiring Lynch as a reclamation project this time around, he won't have to worry about overpaying for his services.

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