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The Denver Broncos will put rookie quarterback Drew Lock in uniform Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers and coach Vic Fangio said Friday it’s still a possibility Lock will start the game.
“We haven’t decided yet [on a starter], but we’re definitely going to activate Drew [Saturday],” Fangio said after Friday’s practice. “He’ll be dressing on Sunday for sure.”
While Fangio did not make a formal announcement about a starter on Friday, it can be noted Lock has taken most of the snaps with the starting offense in practice this week and has been the first quarterback in line in drills during the open periods of practice as well. If he does start, he will be the third starting quarterback for the Broncos this season after Joe Flacco (now on injured reserve) and Brandon Allen.
Fangio said he wanted to look at the video from Lock’s work in practice this week, including Friday’s, “more extensively” before making the decision. Fangio added he had not yet told the players who would start at quarterback on Sunday.
The Broncos have a walk-through practice on Saturday.
If he starts Sunday, Lock — who was a second-round pick in April’s draft (42nd overall) — would be the Broncos’ seventh different starting quarterback since Week 9 of the 2017 season, when Brock Osweiler started in place of an injured Trevor Siemian. It would be the ninth change overall at the position in that span of 36 games.
The potential move comes as the Broncos’ offense has struggled much of the season. The Broncos are coming off a 134-yard performance in a 20-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday — the team’s lowest single-game output since 1992 and eighth-lowest in franchise history.
The Broncos, at 3-8, have scored more than 16 points just four times this season, and they are ranked 28th in the league in scoring and 27th in total offense.
Fangio was asked on Monday if Lock entering the starting lineup was a possibility and said: “It’s possible, yeah … As far as this week goes, all options are on the table … We’re just going to make a decision in the next couple days.”
Lock has been on injured reserve since the start of the regular season. He suffered a right thumb injury in the Aug. 19 preseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers and did not participate in a full practice again until Nov. 12. The Broncos had until Tuesday to decide to either move him onto the roster or to keep him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
“It gets to the point where you just can’t take not doing anything any more,” Lock said earlier this week. “That hit me about four weeks ago … As far as me actually thinking I’m ready … I felt good after [last] week, I felt like if needed I would be able to come in, I would be able to compete, I would be able to complete balls.”
Fangio had repeatedly said the 12 weeks Lock did not practice impacted the rookie’s ability to be ready to play. This week marked the eighth, ninth and 10th full practices — Wednesday, Thursday and Friday — Lock had participated in.
“I think he’s made progress each and every day,” Fangio said Friday. “When you go from getting, basically, 10 out of 40, or 42 reps, to getting 32 out of 42 three days in a row, you should be a little better, a little more comfortable and I think he is.”
When asked earlier this week what he would need to see from Lock to consider starting him Sunday against the Chargers, Fangio said: “Just see some more practice … just to make sure he’s OK, physically, which he is, and that he’s prepared mentally and emotionally to play,”
In his third start for the injured Flacco, Allen struggled mightily against a Bills defense that opened the week No. 3 in the league in scoring defense. Allen finished 10-of-25 passing Sunday for 82 yards to go with an interception. He also was sacked four times and the Broncos closed out the loss with five consecutive three-and-outs.
In those last five possessions — 15 plays from scrimmage — the Broncos had 2 net yards combined. Allen’s interception also ended the Broncos’ only drive that made it to the Bills’ 25-yard line.
Should he start any of the Broncos’ remaining five games, Lock would be the seventh Broncos quarterback since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to start at least one game in his rookie season in franchise history. The team has gone 3-4 in those debuts with Tommy Maddox, Jay Cutler, Tim Tebow and Paxton Lynch having made their first rookie starts in losses while John Elway, Gary Kubiak — Elway and Kubiak each started games as rookies in 1983 — and Craig Penrose made their first rookie starts in wins.