ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — First came the buzz that young star Deshaun Watson was coming for his job in Denver. Then it was veteran Matthew Stafford, then rookie Justin Fields and finally reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers.
Drew Lock ignored it all, something the Broncos’ incumbent quarterback swore wasn’t all that difficult.
He said Monday after the Broncos’ first day of OTAs that he was so doggedly determined to round out the rough edges of his game this offseason that he had no time to worry about anything else.
He was too focused on his footwork, too swamped with 2020 tape review. He was too busy practicing drop-backs in his basement and ignoring texts from anyone daring to mention the latest report or newest rumor about his job being in jeopardy.
“I put every single ounce I had into the offseason,” Lock said. “And being able to do that, gave me zero time to be able to listen to all this stuff that maybe one day I’ll go back and read and laugh about all these things being said by people that ended up being completely wrong.”
There’s one thing Lock couldn’t disregard: the acquisition of veteran QB Teddy Bridgewater on the eve of the NFL draft.
The two are competing for the starting job, a clash coach Vic Fangio said he expects to last deep into August.
“Teddy’s been great. Today was obviously the first time meeting him in person being that we’ve all had to be on Zoom again up until this point,” Lock said. “I feel like we’re going to be able to talk easily out there.”
Bridgewater said he sensed Lock’s charisma right away.
“Drew is a great guy, man. He walks into the room and his spirit is up,” Bridgewater said. “That’s the type of guy you want to be around. Our personalities will mesh well.”
Although Bridgewater is four years older and has 31 more starts that he does, Lock said he sees the two on equal footing.
“I feel like we can both bounce things off of each other now where I don’t feel necessarily that I’m the young one,” Lock said.
That maturity is something Fangio noticed in Lock this spring.
“I just think Drew’s got a better understanding of what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL,” Fangio said. “His rookie season he missed a lot of time and then he got to play those last five games and had some success. And then last year with the new offense and everything else that was going on with the pandemic, it was hard for him to take the logical next step.”
As for Bridgewater, he’s playing catch-up but can lean on his previous experience in Minnesota with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
“He’s been in the meetings since we’ve signed him. Now he gets his first chance to be on the field and execute what he’s learned in the meetings,” Fangio said.
“I’m sure there’s some rust and some uneasiness about exactly what we’re doing, but I’m sure there is a lot of carryover to what he’s done at other places. I thought he had a good first day.”
Just 24 hours after his trade from the Carolina Panthers came word that Rodgers might end up in Denver if things can’t be patched up between the league’s reigning MVP and the Packers.
“Honestly man, I just keep my head down and control what I can control,” Bridgewater said. “In this business, you have to wear big-boy (pants), and I wear them. … It’s a business and I understand the nature of this business.”
Fangio doesn’t expect to see either Bridgewater or Lock pull away during the three weeks of OTAs followed by a minicamp in mid-June.
“Not really. It may create separation in some peoples’ minds, but until we get to at least practicing 11-on-11 you need to withhold much judgment,” Fangio said. “Eleven-on-11 and then ultimately, the preseason games will be the true tell.”
Quarterback competitions are nothing new in Denver, where the Broncos have cycled through passer after passer since Peyton Manning retired in 2016.
“If there’s anyone on the offense, I know what it means to block for multiple quarterbacks,” left tackle Garett Bolles said. “You all know how many I’ve blocked for over the past couple of years. … I’m used to it. I hope we find one soon. I hope Coach finds the guy soon, if it’s Teddy or if it’s Drew.”
Or maybe even Aaron.