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Kyle Orton chief among Denver Broncos' bevy of QBs

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Kyle Orton's designs on a long-term contract from the Denver Broncos took a hit with the offseason acquisitions of Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow.

While Orton may not represent the future of the franchise, he certainly is the present.

That was clear at the Broncos' passing camp this week when all four quarterbacks, including second-year pro Tom Brandstater, took the field at Dove Valley together for the first time.

Orton went first on all the drills and had the firmer grasp of the system, having been here for 13 months and started 15 games last season.

When coach Josh McDaniels traded fullback Peyton Hillis to the Cleveland Browns for Quinn in March, McDaniels immediately declared that Orton remained his No. 1 quarterback, saying he deserved as much after his solid stats in 2009.

Then last month, when McDaniels made the biggest splash in the NFL draft by moving up to select Tebow in the first round, he once again insisted Orton was his starter.

Of course, there were the usual caveats that things could always change.

Orton figures he's the best man for the job even as fans clamor for Quinn, whose success at Notre Dame never translated in Cleveland, and Tebow, the work-in-progress quarterback who led Florida to two national titles.

"Oh, I'm competing for the job, but I certainly feel like it is my job, and my teammates know that," Orton said. "I'm going to keep on trying to show that to them every single day."

Orton signed his $2.621 million tender as a restricted free agent this spring, not because of Quinn's arrival, he said, but because he felt that as the Broncos' offensive leader he needed to take part in the team's offseason program.

Whether or not he's in their long-range plans.

"I'd certainly like to be taken care of and have a bunch of job security, but obviously that didn't happen," Orton said. "What are you going to do? It doesn't put me down or make me say I've got to do all this or do more. I go about my business and try to win football games."

Given that the big contract didn't come his way while Quinn and Tebow did, Orton has impressed some of his teammates by his very attendance this offseason, augmenting his leadership credentials.

"He's here. He's in camp and he's out there practicing. To me, that speaks volumes," safety Brian Dawkins said. "He could have easily said, 'You know what, I don't want to be here. I'm not going to be around all of that mess. I'm going to sit it out.' He didn't do those things."

Orton had a solid season in Denver after arriving from Chicago in the Jay Cutler trade. He threw for 21 touchdowns and 3,802 yards, but at 8-8 the Broncos missed the playoffs again.

Orton said he'll make leaps in Year 2 in both the grasp and execution of McDaniels' complex offense, which both men hope includes more of a downfield dimension in 2010.

Orton insists he's not bothered by the new competition for his job, either.

"I think you get it wherever you're at," he said. "There's maybe three or four guys around the league that are Hall of Fame quarterbacks and it's their franchise. But from there on out, you have to earn your play every single game, every single week. And I'm fine with that."

And it won't change him.

"I don't let anybody affect my motivation and work ethic," Orton said. "I know what I've got to do to get ready for the season. I've been doing that. And I will certainly continue to get ready to have the best season of my career."