ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Drew Lock took the snap, rolled left and fired a dart to a equipment manager Thursday afternoon.
Just like that, the embattled quarterback remained in the mix to start against the scalding-hot Miami Dolphins after splitting practice reps with Bretty Rypien. Lock aims to play, trying to shed an injury-label tag, while eager to rebound after his worst game in 12 career starts.
"I'm going to take it day by day with these doctors, the trainers and even the coaches. I'm going to let them make a decision on whether or not they want to play me or not," Lock said. "Obviously, I'll give my opinion and I want to play, but in the end it's not 100% up to me what happens.”
Lock's strained oblique, sore ribs and ineffectiveness figure into the equation. Lock ranks last with a 55% completion percentage, magnified by the fact that the league average is 65%, the highest mark through ten games since 1970.
If Lock shows he is healthy, it makes sense for him to start. If he is compromised, it is not fair to Lock or the team for him to face the Dolphins. This is a Miami club that ranks fourth in takeaways (15) and fifth in points allowed per game (20.2), while blitzing 40% of the time.
Lock admitted he sustained his current injury in the second quarter of the Raiders' game, and it showed in his performance. He completed 10 of 22 passes for 95 yards with two of his four interceptions and one touchdown.
"I was feeling it, but you play football your whole life growing up and you get twisted ankles, a bruise here, a bruise there, it was nothing that I wouldn't be able to go home and look my dad (Andy Lock) in the eyes and say, ‘Yeah dad, sorry, I sat out in that second half because I have bruised ribs.’ That's not how I was raised," Lock said. "You're going to be tough and you're going to go out there and play until they drag you off the field.”
Lock remains frustrated on multiple levels. He said he never missed a high school or college game due to injury. And he was rarely, if ever, playing to keep his job. He would not concede this, but it is the nature of the NFL. Outside of high profile free agents and first-round picks, no player feels comfortable leaving the door ajar for another player.
If Rypien plays well would that keep Lock on the bench? Would he return at some point? These are hypotheticals. The reality is that the Broncos are not viewed as a playoff team, so coach Vic Fangio could reinsert Lock regardless of how Rypien performs.
Rypien continues to view his status through a narrow lens. As he did for the Patriots game, Rypien, a former Boise Star star who moved ahead of Jeff Driskel on the depth chart, is practicing like he will start. He is 1-0 this season, beating the Jets in a roller-coaster outing with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
"I don’t know what will happen on Sunday, but like I said, I take the same mentality every week," Rypien said. "I think it was very valuable experience (to play against the Jets). One, I proved to myself that I can go out there and get a win, and I learned a lot throughout that game. There were some ups and some downs in the fourth quarter. I had to fight back from some adversity. There were a lot of good lessons to learn from that game that will definitely help me going forward.”
By any measure, the Broncos quarterback play has been abysmal. The Broncos have thrown a league-worst 16 interceptions and lead the NFL in giveaways (15).
"None of us are patient, none of us think that turning the ball over is a good thing," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "And we can't do it like we did last weekend and expect to win games and move forward.”
I asked Bradley Chubb about his role as a leader during a two-game losing streak that has all but squashed the team's playoff hopes. "The record doesn’t matter. We can change the record around in a game or two. That doesn’t matter. It’s about how we take care of our families and our legacies. There’s no quitting anybody on this team. In trying to be that leader, I’m going to keep emphasizing that there’s no quitting on this team. We’re professionals and we have a job to do. Let’s go out and do it to the best of our ability.” ...
Tight end Noah Fant (ribs) made progress on Thursday, and appears in line to to play Sunday. ...