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The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Paul Klee column

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) — Paul Klee The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Aug. 12--View Comments

ENGLEWOOD -- Let's start here: Kyle Sloter now has a music video.

It wasn't enough, of course, that a navy-and-gold flag hyping the "Northern Colorado Bears" flapped in the breeze on Von's Hill at the final day of training camp; that Sloter, the most famous UNC football alum since Widefield's Vincent Jackson, was the first Bronco on the practice field and the last one to leave it (signing autographs, snapping pics, kissing babies); that the third-string quarterback casually drops phrases like "multinational Armitage" in small-talk conversations; that my mail -- email and voice -- has been flooded with frantic calls for Sloter.

Kyle "Klawz" Sloter needed a music video. Now he has one.

"No. 1 on the field and in your hearts...

Team Slo-ter! Team Slo-ter!

He's undefeated and blowing up the depth charts ...

Team Slo-ter! Team Slo-ter!

Look out for the kid from UNC ..."

And so we interrupt your daily diet of Broncos quarterback controversy for the best lesson of this Broncos training camp: Do your job, don't whine, and they'll make music videos about you.

All Sloter wanted was a shot. "Whatever opportunity they give me," he told me in May, "I'll take it." He got one -- kinda, sorta -- and now he's taking it.

Stand up, Greeley. This quarterback's for you.

But Sloter is not a quarterback option for the Broncos, according to the coach. Vance Joseph said Sloter won't get practice time with the first- or second-team offense. Those reps are reserved for Trevor Siemian (who almost quit football for a job in commercial real estate, so maybe that's the key to playing quarterback for the Broncos) and Paxton Lynch, Joseph said. It's a mistake by the Broncos. The smart move -- in the locker room, a meritocracy where they abhor playing favorites; in Colorado, where we gravitate to our own ("What more could you want than to learn from John Elway and learn some things and pick his brain a little bit?" Sloter said); in the QB room, where "open competition" applies only to first-round picks who never are the first ones on the practice field. It's a mistake because Kyle Sloter has approached this job interview -- the one in the NFL, not the one in finance -- with the highest degree of professionalism, and the rest of the team has taken notice.

Sloter's the only guy to wear a tie to the first preseason game. He's been the first guy on the practice field, without fail, every day. (I asked him why he's the first guy out there, hoping for a deep, philosophical answer, but Sloter said his early arrivals are based in superstition.) Tom Brady, on his 40th birthday, was the first one on the practice field in New England, and my lasting memory of Peyton Manning was the 38-year-old jogging up and down Von's Hill after a 90-minute practice.

All that stuff matters with quarterbacks. It just does. Sloter knew as much even after he played only one full season as a starting quarterback in college, at the FCS level, in Greeley, for those loud and proud Bears.

"It's something that I went into knowing when I came here, that it was going to be a Paxton and Trevor show. I'm fine with that," Sloter said Saturday after posing for roughly two dozen photos with fans at Dove Valley. "I don't get paid to make those decisions. That's up to them. My job's just to go out there and do the best that I can and put the team in the best position to win."

When I called Sloter back in May, my interest was in his Wonderlic score -- 38, which would have been the highest score at the NFL Combine he wasn't invited to. "It's seriously one of the easiest things I've ever seen in my life," Sloter said. He said that he almost quit football in January to accept a job offer as a finance expert with Ashford Advisors, scored a 1,740 on the SAT in high school, and that he had to make up 45 lost credits when he transferred from Southern Miss to UNC. Basically, that he's a worker and a brain and one of those guys who's going to force his way into the conversation.

Thursday in a pretend game against the Chicago Bears, Sloter forced his way into the conversation. He nailed five of six passes, including a 47-yard touchdown to 5-foot-8 Isaiah McKenzie, and looked comfortable doing it.

"The good: I can step up in the pocket and throw it 50 yards, wide open, to a guy," he said, drawing laughs. "The bad: I've just got to refine the footwork and fix the timing."

Next time out, against the 49ers on Saturday, Lynch will start and play about 1.5 quarters, then Siemian will come on and play 1.5 quarters. Last week I predicted the QB competition is over. Ol' Trev's the guy, for now.

"This week it's Paxton's turn, and we'll figure it out from there," Joseph said.

Sloter gets mop-up duty with the last string.

"He's been impressive for a young (undrafted) free agent quarterback," Joseph said. "He's poised, his ball placement is good -- in games and in practice. I wasn't surprised to see him play well in that game on Thursday night. He's done a good job for us."

The Broncos set a training camp record with an average of 4,910 fans per practice. No Peyton, no playoffs, no problem. At the final one, it felt like 4,000 were there to see Sloter. Kyle himself had never seen the music video.

"Team Slo-ter! Team Slo-ter!

It's a QB ... controversy!"

"Got a little ring to it," Sloter said upon his first view. "I kind of like it."

Broncos Country likes the guy from UNC.

___

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