Coach John Fox said it clearly and bluntly in February: "Kyle Orton's our starter."
Fox hasn't moved far off that stance in the six months that passed since those words were uttered at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. On This week, responding to the national debate raging over whether Orton or Tim Tebow, a Broncos' first-round pick in 2010, should start this season, Fox said training camp competition would settle it.
"My story's been the same regardless of what you hear," Fox said. "And I'm in those meetings every day and know what's said to everybody. Nothing's changed. We've been singing the same song as seven months ago."
Orton is scheduled to earn $8.829 million in 2011 and passed for 3,653 yards and 20 touchdowns in 13 games last season before Tebow got his shot in the final three games of the season. He showed guts and guile, but his accuracy was an issue -- he was 41 of 82 passing but rushed for six touchdowns -- and Tebow's timing was lacking with the Broncos' receivers.
The debate heated up when the Broncos reportedly attempted to deal Orton to the Miami Dolphins last week. When the two sides couldn't agree on compensation, the Dolphins signed veteran Matt Moore and the Broncos paid Orton's $1.5 million roster bonus, more or less clinching his roster spot in Denver.
Many have chimed in, including LeBron James, who responded to ESPN analyst Merrill Hoge's on-air critique of Tebow.
Before he later tweeted that it was embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow, Hoge made critical comments on SportsCenter.
"He is awful as far as accuracy goes and what's kind of even more disturbing, he's probably worse moving and running around with the football and throwing than he is from the pocket," said Hoge. "Can you get better there? A little bit. If everything is perfect, the pocket, your feet are good, all your fundamentals come into place, the coverage is what you want it, you can be successful. But that doesn't happen at the National Football League. Rarely does that happen."
James' Twitter response: "The man hasn't even play a full season and its only his 2nd year in. Guys get on that TV and act like they was all WORLD when they played. How bout encouraging him and wishing him the best instead of hating!!"
Tebow was 1-2 as a starter in his rookie season. The fan favorite, who cost former coach Josh McDaniels three draft picks to move up in the 2010 draft to select Tebow, is also competing with Brady Quinn for the No. 2 quarterback job. He acknowledged Hoge's comments.
"Hey Merril...... 'ppreciate that," Tebow wrote on Twitter.
Closes August 18. Includes public padded practice at Invesco Field at Mile High on Saturday, Aug. 6. Broncos have six two-a-day workouts scheduled from Aug. 1 to the close of camp, but in each case, the second practices are walkthroughs open to the media only.
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