ENGLEWOOD -- It's Tim Tebow time for the remainder of the season whether Kyle Orton likes the situation or not.

Orton said he was informed by the Denver Broncos that the rookie will start not only Sunday against Houston, but in the season finale the following week when San Diego visits Invesco Field.

Even with his bruised ribs almost healed, Orton, who was in the midst of his most prolific passing season, will watch Tebow just like everyone else.

Orton was unhappy over the decision that leaves his future with the organization quite hazy, especially with a new front office likely coming in after a dismal season that cost Josh McDaniels his job.

"I said I'd like to finish the season. That wasn't the option that was presented," said Orton, who signed an extension through 2011 last summer. "I don't know if I'll be here next year. We'll just have to wait and see what shakes out with the organization."

For now, the Broncos (3-11) are casting their fortunes with Tebow.

The first-round pick out of Florida was solid in his first start last weekend in Oakland, even if the playbook was scaled back for him.

Tebow threw for a pedestrian 138 yards, most of his throws of the nice and safe variety to the outside.

But he did make plays happen with his legs, including a 40-yard TD scamper on a missed assignment that was intended to be a draw to Correll Buckhalter.


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Tebow finished with 78 yards rushing, the second-highest single game total ever by a Broncos quarterback.

His performance did come with some friendly advice from interim coach Eric Studesville -- slide more.

At 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Tebow may be built more like a fullback, but all those hits from linebackers and defensive linemen tend to take a toll.

"You can talk to him about things like that but those instincts are just in him," Studesville said. "Hopefully we can keep him healthy as long as possible doing those things because we know the violence of this game. But he plays this game how it's supposed to be played and some of that is him getting bounced around out there."

Tebow insists that's simply the way he's wired, has been since his college days with the Gators.

"I try to be smart in every situation. But sometimes my competitive nature can get the better part of me," said Tebow, who hurt his ribs in a preseason game at Cincinnati when he barreled into the end zone through defenders. "I'll try to be even smarter to make good decisions with my body."

As of now, Tebow may just be the Broncos' best rushing option.

Knowshon Moreno has sore ribs, missing practice Wednesday, and Lance Ball gained just 20 yards on 15 carries against the Raiders. Buckhalter chipped in three yards on six carries.

"It's just a lack of execution. Plain and simple, we should be doing pretty good," Buckhalter said. "We had a letdown against the Raiders. There are no excuses. We just didn't execute."

The presence of Tebow provided an offensive spark, the team rallying around their enthusiastic quarterback in the huddle.

It was certainly visible to Texans coach Gary Kubiak.

"You saw the energy of the football team pick up," Kubiak said. "I've been very impressed."