ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Tick. Tock. Drew Lock remains on the clock.
Broncos' fans would have been thankful if coach Vic Fangio had named the rookie the starter on Thursday. There was no announcement, but Fangio admitted Lock is making strides in the workouts.
"He did fine. I think he felt more and more comfortable as practice went on," Fangio said. "We don't know yet (if he will start). We have discussed it, but nothing has been finalized."
All signs are pointing toward Lock, the team's second-round pick last spring, making his debut. He is taking the lion's share of reps, and offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello is prepared to tweak the offense to the kid's strengths.
"I like where he is mentally and how he has progressed," Scangarello said. "It's no different than a backup who hasn't played. In the end you have to tailor it to what they do best, what they can handle, that it's not too much, and what you can do best with the guys around you."
Of course, expectations should be tempered. There will be scribbles outside the lines. But with the Broncos owning a 3-8 record, and all but eliminated from the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, starting the evaluation on Lock makes sense. He brings elite arm talent, and brims with confidence. Players are anxious to see how he does, knowing it will be messy. Using more spread concepts and putting Lock in shotgun formations could help.
Lock is not new to this role. He started four years in both high school and college. He told Denver7 that he wasn't ready two weeks ago. He needed reps. Now, he's prepared if called.
“If I am needed to pull the trigger and start me this week then I’d be ready in all aspects, mentally and physically," Lock said. "I want to try and build this into something special."
Alexander Johnson's "raptor" call on big plays could be missing Sunday. The promising inside linebacker injured his knee against the Bills, and his status for the Chargers is "up in the air," according to coach Vic Fangio. The Broncos expect linebacker Josey Jewell (ankle) to be available, but he lost his starting job to Johnson on Oct. 6.
Part of the reason Denver has not returned to the postseason since winning Super Bowl 50 is the lost dominance at home. During their five consecutive playoff berths from 2011-15, the Broncos posted a 31-9 record in Denver. The Broncos are 14-15 since, including 2-3 this season. ... Right tackle Ja'Wuan James (left knee) might play on Sunday, but he's not in line to start. James has not played since re-injuring his knee against the Colts on Oct. 27. His absence -- he has played 32 snaps this season -- has prevented the Broncos from sitting left tackle Garett Bolles after bad plays or bad series because there are no viable options. ... Von Miller is dealing with right knee soreness, but he's expected to play Sunday. There's no plan to shut him down for the season as a precaution, Fangio said.