ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Kyle Orton says he thinks Brady Quinn's acquisition will make the Denver Broncos stronger and deeper.
He just doesn't plan on admiring him from the sideline.
In his first public comments since the March 14 trade that brought Quinn over from Cleveland, Orton said Tuesday he appreciated coach that Josh McDaniels came out and said he's still his starter.
Although that can certainly change, Orton said he's not focused on any competition for his quarterback job but rather on improving in his second season in the system.
He also said he's participating in the Broncos' offseason program – not because Quinn is here but because he felt that as the team's leader, he needed to take part even though he's a restricted free agent who hasn't signed his $2.621 million tender.
"Him coming in hasn't changed my work ethic, hasn't changed my approach to this season," Orton insisted. "I knew we had to get better as an offense, and there's no way we're going to do that if I'm not here."
Orton had a solid season in Denver after arriving from Chicago in the Jay Cutler trade a year ago. He threw for 21 touchdowns and 3,802 yards, but at 8-8 the Broncos missed the playoffs again.
"There's things that I got to do to improve, obviously, or we would have been in the playoffs last year," Orton said.
He said he wants to be a stronger leader and make better decisions in games.
"I think I can take my leadership to a whole new level," Orton said. "I think to have a great offense, you've got to have a guy that demands it from everybody, starting with himself. I demand perfection out of my play and I'm going to expect that from everybody else on our offense, as well. So, I think that's my main goal.
"And second, just take this offense to a whole new level, whether it's at the line of scrimmage, whether it's making the plays down the field, whether it's making something out of a busted play. Whatever it is, just make sure we get into the end zone when we need to get into the end zone."
McDaniels focused on defense in free agency, beefing up his line with Jarvis Green, Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams, and he's done very little to tweak his offense, which lost center Casey Wiegmann to Kansas City.
Quinn's acquisition rated as the biggest offensive move this offseason.
Right after pulling off the trade, McDaniels called Orton and told him that while he was bringing in some better competition, he wasn't going to throw the job up for grabs like he did last year when Orton beat out Chris Simms.
"I told him I've never backed down from competition and it really won't change my mindset going into the season at all," Orton recounted.
And, he said, he appreciated the vote of confidence from his coach.
"I feel like I had a good year last year and I'm going to have an even better year this year," Orton said. "The more you can be around guys and the more you can be that guy and have everybody looking to you, the easier it is."
Orton said he especially wants to improve his rapport with third-year receiver Eddie Royal, who followed up his spectacular rookie season (91 catches, 980 yards, five TDs) with just 37 receptions and no touchdowns in one of the more stupefying story lines in Denver last season.
"I just think a lot of it was I was new to him, he was new to me and we just kind of we missed some plays," said Orton, who predicted Royal was "going to have a great year this year."
That could solve another problem for the Broncos, whose offense was confined mostly to underneath routes last season.
"It would be great to be able to hit some plays 25, 30 yards down the field," Orton said.
Orton might not have two of his top targets back in 2010.
Restricted free agents Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler, both of whom ended last season in McDaniels' dog house, are boycotting the team's offseason workouts and hoping opportunities open up elsewhere.
"They're certainly going through a tough situation right now and I hope it works out for them one way or the other," Orton said. "But we'd love to have them. I'd love to have all of our best players and get ready to have a great season."