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The Kyle Sloter Show will kick off at 7 p.m. Thursday with fitting fanfare — the flames, the cheers, the tunnel of high-fives. The undrafted rookie out of Northern Colorado will get his day as the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos, a dream not even he could have pictured eight months ago.
“I always believed I had the talent. It was just a matter of putting it on tape and getting that opportunity,” he said. “Up until I started getting calls in December, I was about to take a job in January as a financial adviser just because I didn’t know what people were thinking. Right after the season, I got my first couple of calls from NFL teams and thought I should take a harder look at it.”
The Broncos added Sloter to their roster after the draft to provide depth and competition in training camp, to learn and watch, to earn repetitions in preseason and put his play on film as two other quarterbacks — Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch — duked it out for the starting gig and a third, Chad Kelly, recovered from injuries.
The Broncos didn’t envision a Sloter following that reached wild heights after the preseason opener at Chicago, where he went 5-of-6 in passing for 94 yards, a touchdown and perfect 158.3 passer rating in the fourth quarter. (You know you’ve made it when your fans have a hashtag, #TeamSloter.)
And they certainly couldn’t have planned for their latest quarterback quandary, as Lynch nurses a shoulder sprain that could keep him sidelined for several weeks, moving Sloter into the starting spot Thursday night.
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The Broncos have had to make adjustments on the fly, and although Sloter has impressive during the preseason, the team’s broad plan remains in effect. Thursday’s game against Arizona will be four quarters of Sloter. After that, the Broncos will examine the possibility of adding a quarterback when some 1,200 players hit the free-agent market at week’s end.
One viable option is to sign a veteran who is cut as rosters are finalized Saturday. Another option is to keep Sloter as the backup for the first week of the regular season, then seek outside help for the second week and beyond, until Lynch is healthy.
“We’re not sure. Every option is going to be explored,” Joseph reiterated Tuesday. “Obviously Saturday, Sunday are going to be big days for the league. So we’ll address that then.”
Adding another quarterback requires the Broncos to use a coveted roster spot. The original plan called for two on the roster, Siemian and Lynch. Not a third, who take a roster spot that would otherwise go to maybe a receiver or a tight end.
“I’m not sure. That’s more for Saturday, Sunday. My mind’s not there yet, to be honest,” Joseph said. “We got a game to play and something is going to happen Thursday night that’s going to shift our thinking. So I’m not there yet to decide on numbers.”
Adding a vested veteran for the opening-day roster would require the team to pay him his salary for the full season.
Thursday will be the final showcase for many players vying for spots among the final 53 as well as the 10-player practice squad that can be formed starting Sunday. Sloter is in the running for both, and likes his chances for the former.
“I think that’s a possibility, but that’s not within my control,” he said. “That’s up to them. My job is just to go out there and do the best that I can, and I’m really just playing, like they say, for a job.”
But his performance won’t be the only deciding factor as the Broncos look ahead.
The plan remains. Just tweaked.