Lock used time on IR to slow his mind, speed his growth

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              FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock scrambles during the second half of the Pro Football Hall of Fame NFL preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons in Canton, Ohio. The Broncos are increasing rookie quarterback Drew Lock’s workload at practice this week to determine if he should get his first NFL start against the Chargers this weekend. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Drew Lock used his time on injured reserve to slow down his racing mind and speed up his transition from spread college quarterback to drop-back pro passer.

Lock, expected to get his first start for the Broncos (3-8) this weekend, now sees that jamming his right thumb in a preseason game against the 49ers might not have been the misfortune he first thought.

“I like to think that everything happens for a reason,” Lock said. “At the beginning of that I was very lost, didn’t know why this was happening. I was super excited to get into the NFL. Then to have that injury happen, it was pretty upsetting.”

He turned the setback into a chance to step back.

“I got to be on my own, learning the way I knew I had time to learn. I wasn’t worried about getting on the field playing. I could kind of focus on what it is I felt like I need to be better at,” Lock said. “And it’s time to find out what it’s going to do for me.”

Lock, who returned to practice Nov. 12, began taking most of the snaps with the starters this week.

“He did fine,” coach Vic Fangio said Thursday. “I think he felt comfortable, more and more comfortable as practice went on. He did fine.”

Fangio demurred when asked if he’s decided that Lock will start against the Chargers (4-7) on Sunday.

“I said at the end of the week at the earliest,” Fangio replied. “We don’t know yet.”

He added that he’s had discussions with his coaching staff “but nothing’s been finalized.”

Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said Lock is showing he made the most of his time on IR.

“I just feel like the time off he did a nice job of preparing himself mentally in every way he could,” Scangarello said. “You can’t trade that for the actual reps on the field, but he definitely grew as a person and he learned a lot from the guys in the (quarterbacks) room. They were very helpful and collaborative and Joe taught him a lot. I think he gained confidence from that and I like where he is mentally and just how he’s progressed. He’s done a nice job.”

Lock took only a handful of snaps with the starters and split the work on the scout team with Brett Rypien the past two weeks.

“Just how much I know the game plan,” is what Lock aims to show his coaches this week. “It was different when I was running scout team and they were running plays off the card … Now, it’s how well can you execute the game plan? How well do you know it? And can you go out there and run it clean with the offense?”

Notes: Fangio said ILB Alexander Johnson’s “availability for this week is up in the air” because of a knee injury he sustained at Buffalo last week. With Josey Jewell (ankle) also hobbled, Joe Jones and Josh Watson would step in against the Chargers. … Fangio said OLB Von Miller (knee) will play Sunday “if he’s healthy enough to play and he feels good about it.” He said there was no way he’d consider shutting down Miller for the rest of the season as a precaution, however.