Should Paxton Lynch start third preseason game?

Call it coachspeak or maybe just an overanalyzed platitude at a time of great hysteria, but Broncos coach Gary Kubiak seemed to insert rookie Paxton Lynch firmly in the conversation to be Denver's opening day starter following the team's loss to San Francisco on Saturday.

"He's always been in the mix," Kubiak said of Lynch, via comments distributed by the team. "I just told you guys that he's behind the other two from a knowledge standpoint, but we've been out there competing every day. Everybody is in competition to play."

The team is just five days away from the much-heralded third preseason game, the one in which starters typically get the most work and a chance to realistically game plan for their opponents. Only then will we find out just how serious Kubiak is.

The smart money is on either Mark Sanchez or Trevor Siemian jogging out with the first-string offense and a quick trigger finger by Kubiak, who will want some type of clarity heading into the final matchup of the preseason against the Cardinals and won't be afraid to yank an underperformer.

But what if he went with Lynch?

Kubiak has been entrenched in this decision for weeks now, but is it crazy to wonder what might happen if the team gambled on Lynch's athleticism and rookie enthusiasm? Could Lynch rise to the occasion knowing that he is in complete control of the offense?

A move like that would obviously rob Siemian of a chance he deserves, too. Siemian has never had the chance to show his skills after a full week of team-specific game planning, unlike Sanchez who has been an entrenched starter for long stretches of his career. Against San Francisco on Saturday, Siemian performed well, save for a pick six. In a heads-up battle against Sanchez, it was essentially a wash after Sanchez lost a pair of fumbles before the half.

Lynch was more of a wildcard. As our Chris Wesseling noted, Lynch "flashed underrated athleticism and a rocket arm," but struggled to keep some of the early drives going.

"I'm going to play the guy that I think is best for our team," Kubiak said when asked about Lynch's performance. "We have three guys out there battling. Obviously (Lynch) is a young kid. He did some really good stuff tonight. He made some mistakes, too. I think I've continued to tell you guys that he is behind the others from a knowledge standpoint as far as running the group. Obviously we need to keep coming, keep bringing him along. We're going to keep working here, find the guy that we think is best for our football team and go from there."

If knowledge is the main factor separating your first-round pick from the rest of the field, why not give him five intense days to make it up? At worst, it marginally harms the development of Siemian, who is also young and deserving of first-string reps. At best, Lynch is buoyed by the confidence and turns moments like his rollout touchdown pass in the third quarter into something more consistent. If he doesn't, Kubiak can hand the second quarter to the most obvious starting candidate.

Regardless of who he picks -- at some point, don't we all expect the Broncos to start every one of these guys? -- there will be a statement made via the announcement of this week's starter. It just depends what kind of statement Kubiak wants to make.

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