ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Brock Osweiler's 5-2 record as Denver's starter earned him a $72 million contract in Houston. Trevor Siemian went 6-1 in his first seven starts for the Broncos, garnering both criticism and kudos.
Siemian threw a pick-6 against San Diego last weekend, his first interception since Sept. 18, but the Broncos prevailed 27-19 largely because the Chargers dropped four other passes that went right to them.
While acknowledging that Siemian's O-line didn't do him any favors and his ground game didn't help him much, coach Gary Kubiak called out his quarterback earlier this week, saying his decision-making needs to get better.
On Wednesday, Kubiak tallied the votes and announced after practice that Siemian's teammates had named him offensive co-captain.
''That's pretty cool, to be such a young guy and in his first year of playing,'' Kubiak said. ''It tells him that they want him to lead them, regardless of what year he's in. So, he needs to continue to do that and push forward and we've got to help him.''
Siemian joins seventh-year wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the longest-tenured Bronco, as offensive co-captain.
''It means a lot to me, to first of all be a part of this locker room, and then to know some guys think of me in that light,'' Siemian said. ''So, it's a huge honor to me. I'm really excited to be a part of this thing.''
While Siemian is settling into an expanded leadership role, his play has flat-lined after a stellar first month as Peyton Manning's surprise successor. And the Broncos desperately need him to rediscover that mojo over a daunting second-half schedule that features a single home game in November (Chiefs), December (Patriots) and January (Raiders).
Siemian, the 250th overall draft pick in 2015, out-dueled top overall picks Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Jameis Winston in his first month, but he bruised his left shoulder against Tampa Bay and missed the second half.
The injury kept him out against Atlanta a week later. With rookie Paxton Lynch at quarterback, the Broncos lost to Atlanta. Four days later, a still sore Siemian was back under center and clearly compromised in Denver's loss at San Diego.
Siemian looked much better 11 days later in a win over Houston and he won the rematch against the Chargers on Sunday - but he can thank his defense for hitting Philip Rivers 17 times, deflecting 13 of his passes and picking off three others.
Siemian was 20 of 38 for 276 yards with no touchdowns, a pick-6, a strip-sack and a season-worst 65.2 QB rating.
''I wasn't seeing things right,'' Siemian said.
Opponents now have plenty of film to break down Siemian's strengths and shortcomings, tendencies and trends.
Up next is Oakland in a renewed rivalry between 6-2 teams trying to keep up with the New England Patriots for supremacy in the AFC.
''He's a good young quarterback and seems to have command of the offense and Kubes is not afraid to let him throw it,'' Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. ''They're opening games throwing the ball a bunch, so I think he's been a nice - I don't know if you call it a pleasant surprise or not - they probably knew what they had, but obviously there was a lot of discussion of who was going to be their quarterback. And he's come in and done a nice job for them.''
The Raiders proved to be the toughest team for both Manning and Osweiler last year when the Broncos were marching toward their Super Bowl title. Neither one found the end zone against Oakland.
In Week 5, the Broncos won 16-10 at Oakland when cornerback Chris Harris Jr. returned an interception 74 yards for Denver's only TD as Manning was picked off twice and sacked twice.
In Week 13, the Raiders rallied for a 15-12 win in Denver despite being held to 126 yards because the Broncos fumbled twice in the red zone and Osweiler was sacked five times by Khalil Mack.
''You certainly have to be aware of where he's at,'' Siemian said of Mack. ''And (Bruce) Irvin on the other edge is pretty good, too. So, we're going to have our hands full.''
Notes: CB Bradley Roby was named AFC defensive player of the week after recording seven tackles, two pass breakups and a pick-6 while starting for Aqib Talib (back). The honor comes a week after he was named the NFLPA community MVP for his efforts to empower kids through academic and social outreach programs.
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