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A strong first preseason game has helped Chad Kelly officially pass Paxton Lynch on the Denver Broncos quarterback depth chart.
“Chad Kelly is our backup now,” head coach Vance Joseph said Monday, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Athletic.
Mike Klis of 9News reported Kelly was the first to take reps with the No. 2 team during Monday’s practice.
Free-agent addition Case Keenum remains the starter under center heading into the 2018 season.
While Keenum only saw limited playing time in the team’s first preseason game Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings, Kelly was the star offensively for Denver. He finished 14-of-21 for 177 passing yards and two touchdowns with just one interception.
He also added 38 rushing yards on three attempts.
The last pick of the 2017 draft is the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and had an accomplished career at Ole Miss, but tore his ACL in college and then missed all last season with a wrist injury.
However, Kelly is now healthy and appears to be the top young quarterback on the roster.
Meanwhile, Lynch hasn’t lived up to being a first-round pick in the 2016 draft, appearing in just five games so far in two seasons. He also dealt with injuries last season, but only had a 29.9 Total QBR while throwing three interceptions with two touchdowns in 2017.
In Week 1 of the preseason, the 24-year-old finished 6-of-11 for 24 yards and an interception.
Former player Brandon Stokley provided his thoughts on the competition:
Brandon Stokley @bstokley14
There’s just a different energy with Chad Kelly under center. The difference between Paxton and Chad is so obvious. Chad is way more polished. #BroncosCountry #DENvMIN
Joseph said there will still be an opportunity for Lynch to regain his status, but Kelly passing him seems like a message for this season and the future at the position.