Chad Kelly will be the Denver Broncos’ second quarterback in the second week of preseason ahead of former first-round pick Paxton Lynch.
Kelly took second reps in a closed practice at UCHealth Training Center on Monday after his impressive outing as the third quarterback against Minnesota on Saturday.
The 2017 Mr Irrelevant, playing his first game in 646 days after knee and wrist injuries, brought a much-needed spark to the Broncos as they rallied back from Lynch’s latest woeful outing of 6 of 11 passes for just 24 yards and an interception, before falling 42-28.
Pro Football Focus graded Kelly as the “most-impressive signal-caller” on the night as he went 11 of 16 attempts for 148 yards and a touchdown in a clean pocket, which resulted in a passer rating of 118.2, enough for the 10th best grade among qualifying quarterbacks in the first week of preseason.
Kelly finished the night 14 of 21 for 177 yards, two TDs, and an interception, and was the Broncos’ second-leading rusher behind Royce Freeman with 38 yards from three carries.
His largely impressive debut immediately won over Broncos Country, with many of the 66,172 in attendance at Broncos Stadium at Mile High chanting his name during the game as he drove the offense downfield, completed touchdown passes to tight end Matt LaCossse and rookie running back Phillip Lindsay on his first two series.
He did throw an interception and was guilty of staring down receivers at times, but the impetus and confidence he brought to the team in his first football in almost two years — so often missing when Lynch is running the offense — is a sign that Kelly is a serious threat to Lynch’s future in Denver.
After practice, head coach Vance Joseph confirmed that Kelly will run with the second team for the rest of this week, including the Broncos’ scrimmages against the Chicago Bears on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of a preseason game at Broncos Stadium on Saturday.
Vance Joseph: “Chad Kelly has played well… He deserves a chance to be the 2 right now. He will remain the 2 through the week and into the game.”
— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) August 13, 2018
Kelly praised his teammates for his rise and told the media after practice on Monday that he is “working extremely hard” at his craft, which was visible as he was one of the final three players on the field at the end of practice with receiver River Cracraft and tight end Jake Butt.