ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — This is what Drew Lock envisioned. He changed his routine, lost himself in work, buried himself in film and threw until blisters developed for days like this.
In egg-frying-on-pavement conditions on the first day of mandatory mini-camp, Lock got hot. For the first time during media viewing this offseason, he won the quarterback competition. He completed 81 percent of passes, drilled three touchdown passes to Andrew Beck, Noah Fant and Tyrie Cleveland and showed the swag that makes his potential so intriguing.
"My confidence is high right now. I'm just excited with where this is going," Lock said after practice."I see a lot of things we are building on. ... I am going to put my head down and keep grinding until the season is over. This is my job, my life. I want this team to be successful.”
What Tuesday revealed were the differences between the two participants in the quarterback derby. Lock brings a higher upside because of his willingness to be aggressive. But can he take chances and take care of the ball when scanning the entire field? He must prove that over the remainder of this week and in training camp to win the job.
Teddy Bridgewater, who won the previous two media viewing days in OTAs, played a role he has defined, completing 64 percent of his passes. He responded to first reads with correct check downs. However, he did not pop in the red zone, throwing out of bounds twice to avoid turnovers, but failing to gain rhythm with any touchdowns.
I asked Bridgewater how he avoids keeping a scoreboard everyday to handle the derby with aplomb.
"You just keep shooting. You don't get carried away with what's going on," Bridgewater said. "You just keep playing ball. When I am out there, I understood my job is to find completions, get the ball to my guys, keep our offense on the field. Everything else will take care of itself. It's one play at a time. If you look too far ahead that's when you fail. Just keep shooting."
Over the weekend, I had a chance to chat with GM George Paton at the March for Peace. He indicated that the offseason work has been beneficial for his young team, and for the quarterbacks to get reps.
It played out that way Tuesday as progress was noticeable with not only the QBs, especially Lock, but the offense. I thought one quarterback may separate this month, holding a clear edge entering training camp. The first day of mini-camp provided a reminder that these two quarterbacks could make this a more difficult decision (that is if the Broncos don't trade for Aaron Rodgers, who continues to sound like a man who will never play for the Packers again).
Flash is back
Running back Melvin Gordon experienced a clumsy first season with the Broncos. He took snaps away from the team's second most popular player Phillip Lindsay, had a DUI incident in which charges were ultimately dismissed and finished strong with 10 touchdowns while averaging 4.98 yards per carry over the final eight games. With the Broncos drafting former UNC star Javonte Williams, Gordon, who showed up for the first time this offseason, hears the talk that he has to win the job.
"I am going to go out there, do my job and compete, and wherever the cards fall, they fall. I can't worry about a (positional battle). The media is making it Javonte vs. Mel," Gordon said. "But it's not really about that. It's about us winning football games. I am trying to put the Broncos on the map and keep us on the map."
Tuesday, Gordon looked leaner and more explosive than in training camp last year. He said his weight hasn't changed, but he enjoyed a strong offseason because his workout plan was no longer interrupted.
"I actually got to train and do what I do. You have to think -- most of the time before we even got there, most of the gyms were closed down. People were trying to run in their houses. I was literally meeting up with people trying to sneak in gyms to try and train. It was a little tough, so I didn’t really go through what I go through to get myself prepared and ready for the season. It was just a big adjustment all around," Gordon said. "I kind of went back to my roots with everything opening back up. It’s nothing different. I know what I need to do to come out here and be special. I don’t want us to be in the same situation that we were in last year. You got to do a little bit more, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Just because I haven’t been here doesn’t mean I haven’t been working. I grind. That’s what I do."
Coach Vic Fangio revealed Tuesday that his entire staff has been vaccinated and that 61 players are vaccinated or in the process of doing so. Based on verbal commitments, Fangio hopes that number increases to 70-plus for training camp. Those vaccinated receive incentives, including working out in groups and the absence of daily testing. ...
Fangio does not expect Bradley Chubb (bone spurs removed from ankle) and Courtland Sutton (ACL recovery) to start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Those that will include tight end Albert Okwuegbunam (ACL) and cornerbacks Essang Bassey (ACL) and Duke Dawson (ACL). ...
Receiver Jerry Jeudy, who has had a terrific offseason, did not finish practice because of a stomach ailment. ...
Right tackles Bobby Massie (pectoral) and Calvin Anderson (undisclosed injury) did not participate in practice. Quinn Bailey received extra snaps. ...
Fangio remains hopeful rookie linebacker Baron Browning will be cleared for training camp. He suffered a bone bruise in his knee and has not participated the past few weeks. ...
Five players were invited to try out for the Broncos, working out with the team Tuesday. They included: LBs Shaquem Griffin and De'Morney Pierson-El, tight end Kyle Markway, and receivers Amara Darboh and Gabe Sewell.