DENVER -- ESPN's Dan Orlovsky analyzes football for a living. He tilts toward quarterbacks with his experience, having played the position in the NFL. Last week, I asked Orlovsky if Drew Lock can take the next step in his career since the optimism of Broncos Country hinges on his development.
His answer was telling.
"He definitely has the willingness to be aggressive with the football. That is a rarity for a rookie. He showed he had a good understanding of where to go with the ball," Orlovsky said.
"For young quarterbacks trying to learn their offense and the opposing defense, they play slow. He didn't do that. After one year, it looks like his game will translate. Going forward I believe for all the flack Pat Shurmur gets as a head coach, he's a really good offensive mind. It's a good fit with Shurmur (as offensive coordinator) and Lock."
What is so encouraging about Lock remains the tangible growth. He runs the offense with confidence, determined to "start hot to set the tone." In the team's first padded practice of training camp on Monday, Lock only misfired on one throw in 11-on-11 work, spreading the ball around to Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and Nick Vannett.
Lock is not afraid to take chances in a league that has become increasingly risk averse. Double bolt the door. Set the alarm. We get it. But the Broncos no longer have the luxury of playing it too safe.
I asked Lock about that balance, and he showed maturity belying his second season.
"I will remain myself, taking the shots when they are there, and fitting the ball in tight windows when need be," said Lock, who has the shooters gotta shoot mentality in his veins from his days as a hoops star. "But, I also understand that taking care of the ball is the No. 1 thing. But, it’s not going to take away who I am as a quarterback."
Lock bedazzled the second-string defense. It was part of an overall strong performance. Phillip Lindsay, who takes every carry personally, delivered the best run, putting his foot in the ground on an inside zone play and disappearing through a crease for a touchdown. The first offensive line -- Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Austin Schlottmann, Graham Glasgow and Elijah Wilkinson -- protected Lock after a difficult Saturday, and the second-year quarterback showed the ability to make plays off script.
Coach Vic Fangio, while valuing ball protection, believes Lock should push the limits in training camp, knowing the team must produce more deep strikes.
"I want him to stretch the defense," Fangio said.
It's clear the organized sessions off campus -- put together by Lock and others -- is paying dividends because of added familiarity with play calls and designs.
"Every day we get a little bit better, as far as timing goes with receivers. It’s been (over) six months since I’ve been in a pocket, since the O-line is having to take on guys who are rushing them, and same thing with receivers getting jammed up and having to run their routes," Lock said. "Where we’re at now is a culmination of one little baby step at a time.”
First day OK
Fangio walked away with shrugged shoulders after Monday's workout.
"It was just OK," Fangio said.
The defense lacked the intensity of the previous two days when turnovers and pressure were prevalent. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb gave the second-string line fits, and linebacker Todd Davis made a handful of strong plays.
During 7-on-7 drills, Davis knocked Lindsay to the ground on a crossing route. Lindsay jumped up and pointed at Davis. Tempers quickly cooled as Fangio was nearby, and has known penchant for hating dust-ups in practice .... There was some pushing and shoving between Dalton Risner and DeMarcus Walker after one running play as the practice became more physical. ... Walker had a nice play, spoiling a screen pass to Melvin Gordon. ... Gordon glides when he runs, but didn't have much space Monday. He did make a terrific move, turning nothing into a healthy gain by juking a defender in the backfield. ... Jerry Jeudy finished 11 on 11s with a catch over the middle. It's hard to believe how open he has been at times, a testament to his ability to burst out of cuts. .... Jake Butt delivered another practice. He's a longshot to make the team, but is clearly healthier this year than this time last year, said Fangio. Added Drew Lock, "There's no one in this locker room that doesn't want to see Jake (Butt) succeed. He has worked so hard to get back." ... Tight end Austin Fort is sidelined for 4-to-8 weeks after undergoing knee surgery. ... Juwann Winfree continued working on the side with a hamstring issue. ... Veteran nose tackle Mike Purcell made interesting observation about the difference between Fangio from last year. He knows the coach well, playing for him in San Francisco, Chicago and Denver. "He was never used to being a man of many words (as defensive coordinator). He’s talking a lot more. He runs every single meeting. It's been awesome to see the growth from last year to this year."
Lindsay took first snaps with one and had best run of the day.
Melvin couple of nice runs, including juking player in backfield.