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Denver Broncos fans have pretty much given up on Paxton
Lynch.

No longer do they fill the airwaves and social media posts with debates about
how Denver’s 2016 first-round draft pick should be learning on the job even
though he hasn’t earned the Broncos’ starting quarterback job.

They’re wearing Case Keenum No. 4 jerseys now Vernon
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, ready to move on from the crisp No. 12s
that have gotten about as much wear and tear as Lynch’s own game-day jersey.

Two men who aren’t quite ready to label Lynch a blunder are general manager
John Elway and coach Vance Joseph.

While that might seem predictable, both men are adamant that the ex-Memphis
QB is just a late bloomer, not a bust.

Even after signing Keenum in free agency to a two-year deal and declaring the
sixth-year veteran the team’s starter, Elway has stuck by Lynch.

To the surprise of many, he bypassed a bevy of quarterback prospects in the
NFL draft. After using all 10 of his picks on other positions, he declared that
Lynch is still young and hasn’t run out of chances in Denver.

”We are not kicking him to the curb,” Elway said. ”He can still develop. When
we drafted him two years ago, we knew it was going to take some time.”

Elway added this caveat, however: Lynch will compete with Chad Kelly , ”Mr.
Irrelevant” as the final selection of the 2017 NFL draft out of Ole Miss, for
the backup job this summer.

The buzz around Broncos headquarters is that Lynch is a more dedicated pro
this year. His performances on the field, at least those open to the media, have
looked a lot like his first two years: flashes of jaw-dropping brilliance but
still some head-scratching poor plays and bad decisions.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave saluted Lynch’s red zone play Wednesday
and said Doug Baldwin
Jersey
, ”We want those decisions, those habits, to become part of
his fabric so they can become natural, reactive.”

Joseph praised Lynch in an interview with The Associated Press, saying, ”I
think Paxton is really motivated to show everyone that he can be a No. 1
quarterback in this league and watching him work this entire offseason he is
different because I’ve seen him a lot more up in the halls here.

”And that takes time to find your comfort zone with coaches, with your
organization.”

Joseph noted that Lynch has had three offensive coordinators in Denver so
far, something that reminds him of another QB he worked with early in his
career.

”I was with Alex Smith his first three or four years and it kind of looked
like Paxton because Alex had four coordinators in his first four years in the
league,”’ Joseph said. ”How can a guy comfortably get better as a quarterback in
a system that is brand new every year, right?

”These guys need time to develop as quarterbacks. We want them to walk in and
play. Now some guys do. Russell Wilson walked in and did it. But most guys don’t
do it.”

What Lynch needs, Joseph said, is ”time to be in a system for a two-year
period and you will see real growth.”

Joseph said he saw improvement last year even though Lynch was hurt most of
the season and only started twice.

Like Elway, Joseph was impressed with Lynch’s performance in the season
finale Micah Hyde
Jersey
, when he went 21 for 31 for 254 yards with two touchdowns
and two interceptions in a 27-24 loss to Kansas City.

”He played that position very, very naturally in that game,” Joseph said.
”Now, from that point to now, he’s a different guy. He’s 10 percent better. Now,
when it comes time for him to play for us this year and win a football game,
he’s going to be 20 percent better because he’s been with Billy for a year and
a-half now in the same system. That makes a difference.”

First things first, Joseph insisted that Lynch still has to beat out Kelly in
training camp to win the backup spot.

Yet, Joseph’s effusive praise of Lynch reveals the degree to which the
Broncos’ brain trust still believes it didn’t whiff by moving up to select him
with the 26th overall pick two years ago.

Joseph said Lynch deserves such patience ”because he does have rare
talent.”

”Who wants to throw out rare talent before you give him a chance to develop?”
Joseph asked. ”I don’t want to. John doesn’t want to.”

Notes: DeMarcus Ware, who retired last year, has been brought back to Denver
as a part-time pass-rushing consultant. He’ll visit the team a few times every
month and work a selection of home games, Joseph said.

Three sports memorabilia collectors who accused New York Giants quarterback
Eli Manning of providing bogus ”game-worn” equipment that was sold to
unsuspecting fans settled their lawsuit against the Super Bowl-winning
quarterback on Monday, days before the case was scheduled to go to trial.

A spokesman for the defendants Tyreek Hill
Jersey
, a group that included Manning, the Giants, two equipment
managers and Steiner Sports, the company with whom Manning is under contract to
provide game-worn jerseys and helmets for sale, said Monday night a settlement
had been reached to resolve the claims. Details were not given.

Plaintiffs Eric Inselberg, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown had sought triple
the amount of their alleged losses – which totaled less than $20,000 combined –
for buying two helmets billed as worn by Manning. They also had sought punitive
damages, and claimed in court filings they would produce evidence that would
”show that Manning engaged in a pattern of knowingly providing items to Steiner
Sports that he misrepresented as having been game-used when he knew they were
not.”

Manning and the Giants had denied the allegations and characterized the suit
as ”inflammatory and baseless” in court filings.

Jury selection was to have begun this week, but a death in the family of one
of the attorneys had pushed that back to next Monday.

An attorney for the plaintiffs confirmed the settlement Monday night.

Inselberg filed the lawsuit in 2014. The suit claimed two helmets purchased
by Inselberg and the two other plaintiffs – including one purportedly used by
Manning during the Giants’ 2007-2008 Super Bowl season – were bogus. Inselberg
alleged photographic experts using a technique called ”photomatching” could not
find evidence that the helmets were ever used in games.

The Giants and Manning contend photomatching is unreliable because it does
not take into account that helmets are routinely reconditioned during or after a
season, the evidence of which might be found on the inside of the helmet and not
the outside.

The stakes were raised in the lawsuit in April 2017 when Inselberg’s
attorneys filed court documents that contained emails between Manning and
equipment manager Joseph Skiba, who also was a defendant in the lawsuit. In one
email, Manning asks Skiba to get ”2 helmets that can pass as game used.”

The email does not refer to the two helmets at issue in the lawsuit, but
Inselberg alleged it indicates a pattern of fraud.

When the emails went public last year Will
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, Manning angrily denied any wrongdoing. In a
court filing this month, Manning’s attorney wrote that the email was intended to
ask Skiba for two game-used helmets that would ”satisfy the requirement of being
game-used.”

”Manning never instructed Joe Skiba to create any fraudulent memorabilia,”
attorney Robert Lawrence wrote. ”Rather, Manning believed that if he asked Joe
Skiba for his helmets, he received his game-used helmets and that the helmets he
received from Skiba were his game-used helmets.”

In the same court filing, Manning’s lawyer accused Inselberg of being
”engaged in a decades-long memorabilia scheme” in which he obtained, without
permission, game-used Giants equipment, including Manning’s, from Skiba and
Skiba’s brother, Ed, as well as a local dry cleaner.

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