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So much for steady Teddy. Bridgewater craters as defense dominates

Kareem Jackson nets two of three interceptions off QB
Broncos Football
Posted at 4:51 PM, Jul 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-31 18:51:01-04

ENGLEWOOD -- Saturday moving day left Teddy Bridgewater viewing the competition through his windshield.

Steady Teddy had more interceptions than gloves. In an otherwise accurate training camp, Bridgewater cratered on Day 4, picked off three times as the Broncos' gnarly defense dropped its fangs.

Bridgewater took first reps and worked with the starters vs. the defensive 1s. He started off well, showing accuracy and poise on underneath routes even as Drew Lock wowed the crowd with a 40-yard scoring strike to Courtland Sutton. Then, the engine backfired and the transmission dropped.

It started innocently enough. In 11 on 11, Bridgewater dropped back, maneuvered and then misread the intentions of defensive lineman McTelvin Agim. A second-year player who entered camp on the roster bubble, Agim recognized he would not sack Bridgewater, slowed down and stuck up his hands. He deflected the pass and snared it out of the air for what would have likely been a pick six. It was as if he channeled swat master Shelby Harris.

"Just a great play by Agim," said Broncos Super Bowl 50 tackle Ryan Harris. "He did everything right."

Deflections happen. What occurred on the next play was more alarming. Feeling pressure from the left side, Bridgewater stepped up and threw off his back foot, trying to squeze a pass to Jerry Jeudy. Safety Kareem Jackson jumped the route, hauling in the pass for what would have likely been a defensive score.

Moments later in the red zone, Agim tipped Bridgewater's toss again as diving Jackson hauled it in before it hit the turf . Three picks in four passes. Lock did not win this day. Bridgewater lost it with turnovers. By my count, Lock leads the QB derby 2-1-1 as the team returns to practice Monday and puts on pads for the first time Tuesday.

“I would have to look at it. The one (interception) was a coverage that was the first time we played it this camp, so maybe he got fooled. I’m not sure. Then, there was a tip. There’s always a story behind every interception," coach Vic Fangio said. "We’ll see what that story was.”

Bridgewater easily won on the second day as Lock failed to complete a pass in 11 on 11s for the first two hours of practice. But Lock did not turn the ball over. He has yet to throw an interception. Lock has learned from last season, showing more patience, and taking the short passes when necessary.

Bridgewater had been as advertised with his efficiency until Saturday as he finished 11-for-19 in team drills. He received more passing plays as Lock went 6-for-8, including the dime to Sutton, his favorite target during the quarterback's five-game run as a rookie.

While the quarterback story never leaves the headlines, Saturday also brought a reminder of this defense's potential. Takeaways make a unit special. The potential is there -- if the offense carries its weight and secures leads or keeps the game close -- and helped lure Jackson back as a free agent even after the team declined his contract option.

"I think we have a great group of guys here, coaching staff obviously, and this particular scheme that I'm able to play in here. For me it was key to be in a great scheme, so just coming back here where I'm comfortable, been here the last two years. Not only that, I didn't want to move. Moving's a headache. Picking up and going to another city, that's not something I was ready to do," Jackson said."

"It's a great group of guys. I think we've got a lot of talent on this team, and we've got a lot of pieces in the right places to play some good ball and to get in the playoffs, and to make some noise this year."

The NFL featured Back Together Saturday across all 32 camps. The Broncos staged a celebration, raising banners for their 10 Hall of Famers, including the most recent Peyton Manning, John Lynch and Steve Atwater. Alumni and cheerleaders signed autographs, Von Miller addressed the COVID-protocol capacity crowd of 2,587 before practice and Dalton Risner spoke to the Colorado prep state champion football teams after the workout. ...

Rookie linebacker Baron Browning hoped to return early next week. That remains on pause. He worked on the side with the trainers again, but is not making progress. "He's kind of stuck right now," Fangio said. "I am not sure when he will be back." ...

Nose tackle Mike Purcell is likely to miss a week with an ankle sprain. It created more reps for offseason addition Shamar Stephen and DeShawn Williams. ...

With inside linebacker Josey Jewell dealing with a groin injury during practice, Justin Strnad received first team reps. He could find a role in sub packages, especially with Browning sidelined. "In the NFL, it's about leverage. A lot of offenses do things to get receivers over with leverage and picks. Knowing where your help is, where your leverage is, are things you must now to be good in coverage," said Strnad.