Drew Lock

Broncos To Start Drew Lock

After officially activating him off injured reserve on Saturday, the Broncos will start rookie QB Drew Lock against the Chargers on Sunday, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It will be the first regular season action of Lock’s professional career.

Although the Broncos drafted Lock in the second round of the 2019 draft with the notion that he could be the team’s long-term answer under center, he may have to perform at a very high level throughout the rest of the season to stave off any competition for the starting QB job in 2020. The Missouri product had an uneven preseason and was knocked out of the Broncos’ fourth exhibition game with a thumb injury, which landed him on IR. He did not return to practice until the second week of November.

As such, it would not be surprising for the Broncos to go shopping for a signal-caller yet again this offseason if Lock doesn’t excel, though Lock would almost certainly be involved in a QB competition if that happens. After all, he was considered a borderline first-round talent, and he had a prolific four-year collegiate career at Mizzou.

Lock will have a stiff test against the Chargers, whose defense ranks in the top-10 in yards allowed and points allowed, and who will be returning safety Derwin James.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Activate Drew Lock Off IR

Weeks after being eligible to come off the Broncos’ IR list, Drew Lock will return to the team’s active roster. Denver will activate its second-round pick in advance of its Week 13 game, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets.

The team officially made the move and cleared the roster spot by waiving rookie UDFA quarterback Brett Rypien, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Rypien has served as Denver’s backup during the past three games. The Broncos intend to re-sign Rypien to their practice squad, should he clear waivers, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets.

The Broncos have not announced if they will start Lock against the Chargers, but they have given him approximately 75% of the reps in practice this week, Klis notes. Lock returned to practice before Week 11, and it would certainly benefit the Broncos to start their rookie soon given their current status.

Denver lost Joe Flacco to injury midway through the season and has given longtime backup/practice squad talent Brandon Allen the past three starts. While Allen played well considering his history against the Browns and Vikings, the Broncos posted their lowest total yardage figure since 1992 against the Bills in Week 12. Lock debuting would help the Broncos determine how dire their quarterback need still is going into the offseason.

Lock enjoyed an uneven preseason and was knocked out of the Broncos’ fourth exhibition game with a thumb injury. That malady delayed his season and left Flacco unchallenged for Denver’s starting job. With Flacco perhaps having played his final down in Denver, the Broncos may soon enter a fifth straight offseason without quarterback stability.

Lock may need to play extremely well to deter the Broncos from considering quarterbacks in the 2020 first round. The Kansas City, Mo., native did start four seasons at Missouri, however, and was considered a borderline first-rounder leading up to this year’s draft. The Broncos were linked to Lock early in this year’s pre-draft process. He may have a five-game audition starting Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Colts, Dolphins, JPP, Broncos

The Colts are expecting Devin Funchess to return soon, but head coach Frank Reich didn’t want to say anything definitive when talking with reporters on Monday.

“Yeah, we’re gonna monitor him as we go,” Reich said (via Andrew Walker of the team’s website). “You know, we’ve already talked about his injury a bunch; I mean we’ve gotta make sure that thing’s 100 percent healed, so we’ll monitor it this week and see how it goes.”

Reich did note that wideout T.Y. Hilton didn’t suffer a setback with his calf injury during Thursday’s night loss to the Texans, and he also revealed that receiver Parris Campbell could return this week from a fractured hand. Running back Marlon Mack won’t play this weekend against the Titans, according to the head coach.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • The Dolphins will likely be on the hunt for wide receiver help, according to ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe (via Twitter). Jakeem Grant (ankle) and Albert Wilson (rib) both suffered injuries during Sunday’s loss to the Browns, leaving the team with only two healthy receivers in DeVante Parker and Allen Hurns. Head coach Brian Flores noted that he’s uncertain if Grant or Wilson would end up missing the rest of the season due to their injuries (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald).
  • Buccaneers linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul played 76-percent of his team’s defensive snaps this weekend, earning him another $600K. As Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets, the veteran has already earned $3MM in bonuses in five games, and he could earn another $3MM through his team’s final five games. Pierre-Paul has a $3MM base salary this season.
  • Take this for what it’s worth, but Vic Fangio told reporters that Broncos quarterback Drew Lock could “possibly” be on the roster this Sunday and could “possibly” start vs. the Chargers (via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post on Twitter). The second-round rookie has been on the IR since September, but he was designated to return earlier this month.
  • Former NFL running back Karlos Williams has signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, the team announced on Twitter. Williams ran for 517 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, but he was later slapped with three separate suspensions. The 26-year-old was reinstated from his indefinite suspension last February, and he’s finally found his next gig.

Extra Points: Sanu, Brown, Bears, Lock

The Patriots‘ revolving receiver cast may be set for more adjustments. Mohamed Sanu may well be battling a high ankle sprain, according to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. While that is not confirmed, the recent trade acquisition did not practice Wednesday and is listed on New England’s injury report. A high ankle sprain would stand to sideline Sanu for multiple games. The Pats have cycled through numerous receiver combinations this season, with Julian Edelman being the only constant. Phillip Dorsett is in the Pats’ concussion protocol, meaning Edelman’s supporting cast against the Cowboys may be fronted by rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers.

Here is the latest from around the NFL, moving first to a player not currently in the league.

  • Antonio Brown launched a countersuit against Britney Taylor, the first of two women to make sexual misconduct claims against the free agent wide receiver. Taylor filed a civil suit against Brown earlier this year, alleging sexual assault, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports Brown’s case will center around defamation and interference with NFL contract and endorsement opportunities. Brown remains hopeful the NFL will clear him soon; he met with the league last week. But a recent report gave Brown a long-odds chance of playing again this season.
  • Mitchell Trubisky was a full participant at Bears practice Wednesday, despite being removed from Sunday night’s game with a hip injury. Matt Nagy said he does not intend to bench his starter and plans to play him this week against the Giants. “We want him to be out there this week as the starter,” Nagy said, via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m hoping that’s the case. … These types of injuries, you get to a point where they are literally day to day and it becomes about where you’re at with the pain and how we manage that.”
  • Brandon Allen has helped spark the Broncos‘ offense, but the team would stand to benefit from Drew Lock debuting soon. Vic Fangio added an interesting stance Wednesday, indicating he does not think it’s “vitally important” the rookie passer plays this season, via Mike Klis of 9News. However, the Broncos do plan to activate Lock from IR either next week or in Week 14, per Klis. Denver selected Lock in Round 2 but saw its Joe Flacco investment fail, leading to more uncertainty at a long-troublesome position for the franchise. The Broncos could again be linked to top quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, just as they were in 2018 and ’19.
  • One of the Falcons‘ IR-return slots will go toward a punter. Longtime punter Matt Bosher returned to practice, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). Atlanta’s ninth-year punter cannot return to action until Week 13.
  • After placing fullback Nick Bawden on IR, the Lions worked out several fullbacks. Tommy Bohanon, Derrick Coleman, Tre Madden, Aaron Ripkowski auditioned for the Lions, per Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter).

Drew Lock To Practice This Week

Although Drew Lock has been eligible to return to practice for weeks, that has yet to occur. The process of bringing Lock into the starting lineup, however, will begin on Tuesday.

Lock is expected to practice Tuesday, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. This will begin the rookie’s return from IR. The Broncos are already planning to bring wide receiver Tim Patrick off IR. Lock coming back would fill both of Denver’s slots. However, Vic Fangio said it’s not certain Lock will play this season, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (on Twitter). Lock has been sidelined since August with a thumb injury.

Of course, with the Broncos 3-6 and having backup Brandon Allen as their starter now points to a Lock audition coming soon. The tentative plan was for the second-round pick to start the final two Broncos games. While Fangio said Allen’s play will determine Lock’s activation, it would stand to reason the Broncos would give Lock as much time as possible in order for the franchise to gauge its recent QB investment before next year’s draft.

Lock can return to game action at any point, as it’s been more than eight weeks since his initial IR placement. But if he returns to practice Tuesday, the Broncos will have three weeks to activate him. Additionally, Fangio said Bryce Callahan would try to practice Tuesday. The team has also yet to decide if Patrick will be activated this season, Twitter links via Klis and Jhabvala.

Denver going with a Lock-Patrick IR-return combo would mean Jake Butt and Theo Riddick will miss the season. Callahan remains on the active roster and can make his Broncos debut at any point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Mahomes, Lock, Harris, Raiders

Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes is questionable for Kansas City’s upcoming game against the Vikings, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Mahomes, of course, was injured on Thursday Night Football of Week 7 against the Broncos during a quarterback sneak. In a freak incident, Mahomes dislocated his right kneecap.

He returned to practice just six days after the injury, but was quickly ruled out for last Sunday’s game against the Packers. While his status is still up in the air, Rapoport reiterates “At the least, he is considered to have a shot to play.” At 5-3, Kansas City has some breathing room in the AFC West divisional race. However, the chances of a high seed and a first-round bye would be greatly diminished the longer they have to stick with backup Matt Moore.

Here’s more from around the AFC West:

  • While quarterback Brandon Allen is currently next in line for the Broncos after Joe Flacco‘s injury landed him on injured reserve, the team plans to play rookie second-round pick Drew Lock in Denver’s final two games against the Lions and Raiders, according Mike Klis of 9News. Flacco was diagnosed with a disk injury in his neck that requires at least six weeks to recover. Given the Broncos 2-6 record, the team decided to shut down the veteran for the season. Allen is in his fourth NFL season, but has yet to appear in a regular season game.
  • After weeks of trade rumors, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris could be staying in the mile-high city beyond this season, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. With three young daughters and a fourth coming soon, Harris told Jhabvala he was “Definitely relieved and happy to be able to finish the year here.” The news comes as somewhat of a surprise given Harris’ tumultuous relationship with the organization over the past few seasons. However, according to Jhabvala, the team’s new coaching staff has meshed well with the upcoming free-agent.
  • Both Raiders centers Rodney Hudson and Andre James are listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup against the Lions. They both are dealing with ankle injuries and managed to practice, but according to head coach Jon Gruden, both were “sore.”

Drew Lock To Return To Broncos Practice

Despite Joe Flacco enduring a rough Thursday night against the Chiefs, the Broncos as of now do not have a viable alternative at quarterback. Their depth chart, however, could return to full strength soon.

Drew Lock will practice next week, Vic Fangio said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter). The second-round rookie has been out since midway through Denver’s preseason slate with a sprained right thumb. He can come off IR in Week 9.

Interestingly, two other players on the Broncos’ IR list — Theo Riddick and wideout Tim Patrick — will join Lock in returning to practice. IR rules stipulate the Broncos can only activate one of them, so either Riddick or Patrick will end up on season-ending IR soon.

Flacco lost his Ravens job to a rookie last season, with Lamar Jackson usurping him while the longtime Baltimore starter was out with injury. Flacco fared poorly in the Broncos’ latest nationally televised spot, pointing to another benching at some point in this season’s second half.

It would stand to reason the 2-5 Broncos will want to give Lock time down the stretch. While the University of Missouri product did not have a strong preseason, the Broncos’ worst start in two decades points them toward evaluation mode. Determining if Lock is a realistic future starter will be key for a team that could still consider taking another quarterback in the 2020 draft.

Since Patrick landed on IR after the Broncos’ Week 1 game, he cannot return to action until Week 9. Patrick showed some promise as a rookie, catching 23 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown. This season’s Broncos offense has not featured much in the passing game beyond Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, with DaeSean Hamilton playing a more limited role.

Riddick chose the Broncos over interest from the Saints and other teams but went down during Denver’s preseason slate. A shoulder fracture shelved Riddick, but the longtime Lions passing-down back will have a chance to begin his age-28 season soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Place Lock, Butt, Riddick On IR

The Broncos have placed quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Jake Butt, and running back Theo Riddick on injured reserve, per a team announcement. All three will be eligible to return to game action after eight weeks, but the Broncos can only activate up to two players from IR, not the whole trio.

The moves will clear the way for three signings: linebackers Keishawn Bierria and Corey Nelson and cornerback Davontae Harris. Bierria and Nelson (see story here) will receive one-year deals while Harris gets a two-year pact.

If all three players return to full health, and Joe Flacco plays well, Butt and Riddick could be the leaders in the clubhouse for the Broncos’ IR-DTR spots.

Broncos Claim QB Brandon Allen

The Broncos have claimed quarterback Brandon Allen off waivers, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Allen was dropped by the Rams on Saturday, making him available to the league’s 31 other teams.

Allen is now set to serve as Joe Flacco‘s primary backup. Drew Lock was supposed to be the top clipboard holder, but a hand injury will keep him sidelined for a while. Kevin Hogan, an internal candidate to fill that void, was dropped over the weekend.

In addition to Allen, the Broncos have also been awarded the following players off waivers:

  • TE Andrew Beck (Patriots)
  • C Corey Levin (Titans)
  • WR Diontae Spencer (Steelers)

Broncos Trim Roster To 53

The Denver Broncos made a slew of moves today to get down to 53 players. Notably, the team will place rookie second-round quarterback Drew Lock on injured reserve, meaning he’ll have to miss at least the first eight games of the season as he recovers from his thumb injury. The team cut journeyman Kevin Hogan and UDFA Brett Rypien, leaving them without a quarterback behind Joe Flacco. GM John Elway has said they’ll sign a veteran to backup Flacco for now, and we’ve already heard they’re interested in Brian Hoyer.

There weren’t too many surprises that we didn’t already know of. Brendan Langley, a 2017 third-round pick, failed to make the team. He was drafted as a cornerback, but switched to receiver earlier this offseason after he didn’t pan out on defense.

Here’s the full list of other moves:

Waived:

FB George Aston

T Quinn Bailey

WR Trinity Benson

LB Keishawn Bierria

OL Adam Bisnowaty

OL Jake Brendel

WR Fred Brown

LB Jamal Carter

CB Rashard Causey

WR Steven Dunbar Jr.

OLB Ahmad Gooden

CB Alijah Holder

RB Devontae Jackson

CB Trey Johnson

G/C Sam Jones

OL Tyler Jones

T John Leglue

WR Kelvin McKnight

RB Khalfani Muhammad

DL Deyon Sizer

CB Linden Stephens

TE Moral Stephens

RB David Williams

DE DeShawn Williams

Waived/injured:

C Ryan Crozier

LB Joe Dineen

OLB Dadi Nicolas

S Dymonte Thomas

Released: