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Still the starter, Broncos QB Orton says he's sore, not injured

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton says he's sore but not injured.

"I don't have a dead arm," Orton insisted Wednesday when asked about his poor play the past two weeks. "I was throwing the ball 70 yards last week in practice, so my arm's feeling fine."

Other parts of him are bruised and battered.

Orton suffered bruised ribs during Sunday's 43-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but he remained in the game, leaving rookie Tim Tebow on the sideline again.

Interim coach Eric Studesville reiterated Wednesday that he's sticking with Orton as his starter when the Broncos (3-10) visit the Oakland Raiders (6-7) this weekend.

Orton has gone from a prolific to a pedestrian passer in losses at Kansas City and Arizona sandwiched around the firing of his biggest booster, former coach Josh McDaniels, who was sent packing amid Denver's worst skid in four decades and a videotaping scandal.

In the first 11 weeks, Orton averaged 306 passing yards. Over the last two, he averaged just 141.

Orton already has been sacked a career-high 34 times, and it shows. He has spent plenty of time in the training room this week and was more than a half-hour late to his weekly news conference Wednesday because he was receiving treatment.

"Just sore," Orton said, declining to say which body parts were bothering him.

Orton refused to blame his poor play this month on all the bumps and bruises, and Studesville said that although everybody is banged up this time of the year, he didn't believe his quarterback was hurt.

How then does he explain Orton's drastic dive the last two weeks?

"That's the question we're trying to answer, and that's why we're working at it -- the coaches are working at it, he's working at it," Studesville said. "We're all taking great pride in (recognizing) that it has been a problem the last two weeks. And we're trying to solve those problems.

"And the best way to solve it that we know is to go to work, is to keep working and trying to get everybody on the same page, everybody doing what they have to do: offensive line, the backs, the tight ends, the receivers and the quarterbacks."

Tebow warmed up Sunday after Orton's ribs were hurt in the second half and he had trainers check them out on the bench between series. When the Broncos got the ball back, Orton trotted back onto the field.

How close did he come to staying on the sideline?

"They asked me, and I said I wanted to keep going, so I guess not too close," Orton said.

Like many a banged-up starting quarterback who refuses to allow that he's hurting, Orton's main motivation to stay in the game might have been to prevent Tebow from getting a crack at taking his job.

"Well, we were getting beaten pretty bad, and if my teammates are going to be in there getting their butt kicked, then I'm going to be in there getting my butt kicked, too," Orton said. "That's my approach to it, I guess."

Orton did a nice job of hiding from the public just how bothered he was by his two bum ankles last season, and he acknowledged that even if he were injured, he wouldn't say so to the media.

"Would I tell you? No, I wouldn't. No, I wouldn't," he said. "That's for coaches and trainers to know."

Orton said he doesn't pay attention to the fans clamoring for Tebow to get more snaps or even a start as this lost season winds down.

"No, I don't listen to it," he said. "I guess their opinion doesn't have any factor in the way I play. I don't think it has any factor on the way my teammates think of me, and so that's pretty much how I go about it. I don't really have an opinion on it."

Surely, Orton can understand the fascination with Tebow, a two-time national champion and former Heisman Trophy winner whom McDaniels stunningly selected in the first round of the draft in April.

"I can't understand it because I don't think about it," Orton said. "So, I don't have much to say about it."

Since winning his first six starts in Denver, Orton has presided over just five wins in Denver's last 23 games.

"It's been tough. It's been a tough season," Orton said. "I would imagine for everybody in the locker room, it's been a tough season. You know, unless we start playing better, these three weeks are going to be tough. So I'd love to go out and play well and finish the season on a positive note."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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