If you're Kyle Orton, you can go back to your Denver home for over two years, even if you're now wearing the jersey of the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite the return of a quarterback once considered the future of the franchise, the Denver Broncos won't be focusing too much on getting their licks in on their old quarterback as they battle for not only a playoff berth but also the division.
The Week 17 game in Denver against his old teammates represents a chance at redemption for Orton, who was traded to Denver in April, 2009 from the Chicago Bears. His price tag was high -- a first and third round pick in 2009 and a first round pick the following year, and after two less than successful years in Denver he was cut in late November in favor of Tim Tebow. Now he returns with the Chiefs and has a chance of spoiling what could be a big day for the Broncos.
A Denver win would give the Broncos the AFC West title for the first time since 2005 and Orton's former team knows that a quarterback who left the city in shame would like nothing better than to ruin their playoff hopes. For them, it isn't about Orton against his old team when their playoff future looms much larger in the equation.
"We can hit him now. It's going to be a good game. It's going to be fun as it always is, but I'm not going to think too much into this whole Kyle Orton thing," Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers said. "We're fighting for something that's big, and we want to go to the playoffs. That's all I'm focusing on."
But for Orton, this game means plenty even as he's under center for a 6-9 team whose playoff hopes were essentially gone and buried in mid-September. Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said he talked to Orton earlier this week about his emotions this Sunday and putting them in the right perspective as "Every player that I know wants to play good against their old team…I said your job is to help your team win."
Winning might be a good way at job security in Kansas City or at the very least, setting him up for a job somewhere else in the NFL. For Orton, who has been relatively solid in his two starts since joining the Chiefs, including a Week 15 upset of the then undefeatedGreen Bay Packers, Sunday is more than just a game to prove himself to the team that jettisoned him a month ago. He still needs to prove his abilities to his relatively new teammates in Kansas City and that rather than a statement to Denver is what he says is driving him.
Like his old team hoping to make the playoffs, Orton is an eyeing a statement of his own on Sunday and it has nothing to do with playing taking a shot at the Broncos.
"The fact remains in the NFL you get 16 weeks to prove yourself to your teammates; that's not a lot of chances. That's how I'm going to look at it," Orton said. "It's just another week for me to prove my preparation and play with my teammates."
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
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