What would it take for Brady Quinn to play?

January, 6, 2012
1/06/12
5:55
PM ET
With Tim Tebow struggling badly, the Denver Broncos’ brass has been asked if he could be spelled by the rusty Brady Quinn if things continue to unravel Sunday against visiting Pittsburgh in a wild-card game.

Earlier in the week, Denver football czar John Elway said it was unlikely. Friday, Denver coach John Fox expressed hope Tebow will play well, but he did leave room for interpretation.

“He’s on the football team, so everybody on the team is ready,” Fox said. “Like every game, we expect our starters to play well, and if for some reason an injury occurs or something happens, it’s the next man up. So, that won’t change any more this week than it has all season.”

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Friday that Quinn has received a few more repetitions in practice this week than unusual. Werder reported that Quinn has had eight repetitions with the first-team offense in practice this week. He usually gets two reps with the starters. Thus, that minimal amount doesn’t necessarily translate into Denver pressing Quinn into action.

Quinn has not thrown a pass for Denver in the regular season since he was acquired from Cleveland prior to the 2010 season. His last regular-season action was Week 15 of the 2009 while playing for the Browns.

The question of Quinn’s potential insertion has arisen because Tebow has struggled badly in Denver’s past two games. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Denver has had just two scoring possessions that resulted in a total of 10 points in its past 26 possession dating to the first quarter at Buffalo in Week 16. Denver has punted 16 times and has lost six turnovers during that stretch.

This week, Elway said Tebow needs to “pull the trigger” on passing downs in a game where there might be some snowfall Sunday. Tebow has been tentative during his slump. Denver coach John Fox has maintained that Denver -- the No. 1 ranked running team in the NFL -- needs to continue to run, and has to have much better ball security than it has in recent games.

I think Denver wants Tebow to finish the game, and it will only turn to Quinn if the situation gets desperate. However, I think there could be certain situations where Denver could consider Quinn, such as third-and-long situations or in the red zone. However, if we see Quinn get extended playing time over a healthy Tebow, I think that will be a major sign that Denver will consider looking for a new starter in 2012.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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