On Monday, Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville said Kyle Orton will start Sunday in Oakland.
Studesville went on to say that he and the coaching staff would continue to examine a variety of factors to decide which mix of players across the roster will give his team the best chance to beat the Raiders.
“We’re going to look at everything today,” Studesville said. “We have two days to gameplan and look and talk as an organization about what we want to do. If that’s the direction that we decide to go and we feel is best for us, then we’ll make that decision. Right now, we still have to look at everything and get ready and go from there.”
Orton finished Sunday’s 44-13 loss in Arizona 19-of-41 passing for 166 yards with three interceptions. The quarterback, who threw 20 passing touchdowns in the team’s first 11 games, was held without a passing score for the second straight week.
After the loss, Orton took responsibility for the offense’s sluggish performance in recent weeks and vowed to improve in the Broncos’ final three games. But on Monday, Studesville defended the sixth-year veteran by pointing out the various factors that influence the passing attack, such as pass protection and route running.
“It’s 100 percent a team effort — to just put it solely on him I don’t think is 100 percent right,” Studesville said. “But again, we’re all going to take responsibility for what is happening. The last few weeks, we haven’t done those things.”
Studesville said 2010 first-round pick Tim Tebow is “in the equation” and would be prepared to start if the staff deems that he would give the team the best chance to win.
The interim head coach pointed to Tebow’s contributions on the field this season with four total touchdowns and his status as the backup quarterback for 11 of the team’s 12 games this season as indications of the rookie’s value to the team.
Tebow warmed up in the third quarter when Orton suffered a rib injury but did not see game action. On Monday, the backup quarterback, who estimated he gets ”a handful” of practice reps with the first-team offense each week, said he will keep trying to get better on the practice field to make sure he’s ready if called upon on game day.
The former Heisman Trophy winner acknowledged that he’s heard fans chanting his name during games but remains focused on doing what he can to help the team.
“I think you just try to handle it as best as possible,” Tebow said of his popularity amongst fans. “I really appreciate the support and that people are behind me. That means a lot, so I just do whatever I’m asked to do.”
A day after making his NFL head coaching debut, Studesville said he owes it to the organization and “the integrity of the game” to put the best product on the field — whether it comes to making a change at quarterback or another position.
“We’re going to make the decision that’s best for us overall as an organization and as a team,” Studesville said. “I’m going to certainly look to the input from everyone from (Broncos President and Chief Executive Officer) Mr. (Pat) Bowlen on down to the coaches and all of us that have been around to make that evaluation, if that’s what we need to do.”
MCCARTHY TO IR, DAVIS JOINS ACTIVE ROSTER
Kyle McCarthy was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, ending his rookie season, Studesville said on Monday morning. Later in the day, the team announced that wide receiver Britt Davis has been promoted from the practice squad to fill the roster spot.
McCarthy, a safety, was injured on a kickoff on the final play of the first half on Sunday in Arizona.
Davis originally signed with the team on Aug. 5 and finished the preseason with four catches for 63 yards. The Northern Illinois product was waived on Sept. 4 and signed to the Broncos practice squad a day later.
In other injury news, the interim head coach said he is hopeful that Darcel McBath will be able to return Sunday in Oakland after missing the last three games due to injury. McBath traveled to Arizona and worked out on the field pregame before he was ultimately declared inactive for the game.
Studesville also said he would need to see how rehab goes over the next few days for other injured players, such as Brian Dawkins and Matt Prater, before making judgements about their availability this week.