DENVER — Drew Lock arrived for his second training camp with the same jersey, the same number, the same head coach — and yet everything is different.
During his rookie year, Lock made strides, ingratiated himself to teammates and won four of five games. As he strode back into the UCHealth Training Center last week for training camp, his traits, so admired around the building, became amplified.
"For me to be able to walk into the locker room and feel like I have the respect of everybody, that was 100% the one goal I set for that first year — gaining the respect of this team," Lock said to my question about his leadership.
"Now that I have that, there's no worries about personalities, making relationships, because we all know who I am. I know everybody on this team. I know how they act, who they are as a people. Now, it's time for ball. If I need to jump someone, I am not the rookie anymore yelling at a third or fourth-year guy. It's, 'that's Drew getting on us.' It's a whole different mentality behind having a second-year quarterback. I honestly really feel that coming into this year."
Lock played well in his cameo, posting seven touchdowns with three interceptions. He delivered one of the best-ever road debuts, riddling the Houston Texans for 309 yards and three scores. The Broncos averaged 21 points per game under Lock. Reach 23, and they will morph into a contender. Broncos general manager John Elway cautioned that we should "temper expectations" given the absence of OTAs and no preseason games, the later disappointing the boss.
Lock remains realistic, but refuses to pump the brakes after the Broncos added new coordinator Pat Shurmur — he is known for creating deep strikes and using three-wide sets — and drafted receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler.
"Yes, we are young. But you are pretty hungry as you get in here," Lock said, echoing what second-year left guard Dalton Risner stressed this offseason. "Maybe we can be at an advantage, being young and having a lot of motivation, whereas guys who have been in it a longtime, I know they are still hungry because they want to be super good, but maybe they will take a little off. We are taking notes, picking up the minor details. It's not like we've been at it for five years, and we just figure we will fix it when we come to it."
For Lock, this offseason created unprecedented challenges. He recognized what it means to be the Broncos quarterback -- it is the most high profile position in the state. He embraced that responsibility, returning to Colorado early in the summer from Missouri, setting up throwing sessions with receivers, running backs and tight ends and offensive practices around the metro area. The preparation has been admirable, but it cannot account for the issues this summer.
With baseball as proof, sports are a challenge to pull off. The NFL is trying to create bubble life without the bubble. It can be argued that the recent MLB positives, which have created chaos with the schedule and have seen most of the Marlins roster sidelined — revealed that excess community spread makes it almost impossible to avoid the virus. Positives are expected — the Broncos have one so far with tight end/fullback Andrew Beck, who is now in isolation for 10 days — and must be tolerated to a degree. But what, I asked Lock, makes him believe football can pull off a season?
"To play football, to get to this point, the amount of work it takes to get here, for you to be able to play this season, all the work you put in this offseason, everyone has the same mindset. We want to play football," Lock said. "Therefore ,we are going to have to take care of everything off the field. We are going to have to stay safe, stay smart. No one wants to throw away these extra two-three months of work away, throwing, lifting and running. I know this team, personally, I believe we are going to be able to get that done."
Lock is motivated to play. He's dropped a few pounds, become stronger, and watched more film than Siskel and Ebert. He knows anything that lasts, doesn't come easily. He's humbled by this opportunity -- especially during a pandemic when so many of lost their lives and jobs -- and ready to redline.
"Slowly but surely last year, I got to show who I was, especially after I started playing," Lock said. "I’m still expecting the same thing from us (as an offense) because we’re going to put in the extra work.”
Chubb on track
Otuside linebacker Bradley Chubb insists he will be ready to start in Week 1, roughly 11 months removed from the second ACL recovery on his left knee. The first surgery happened in high school, creating a road map for the third-year star. Chubb said the rehab was better this time because of the support staff and daily dedication to healing. He is eager to play this season, saying he, Von Miller and Jurrell Casey can create "chaos."
"Being in (coach Vic Fangio's) defense for a second year, having to sit back and watch it and come to life in games, I feel like it helped me a lot being in the stands. I was able to study my iPad in the offseason, and now in the second year stuff is clicking, and I feel like guys are going to be playing a lot faster," said Chubb, who will be eased back into practice drills and wear a brace on his knee. "I feel like Von is the most motivated I have seen. He's sending me motivational videos. I am just excited to see what we can do this year."