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Broncos keep Drew Lock off IR for practice purposes

Hope for a speedy recovery for second-year QB

ENGLEWOOD – Drew Lock watched his replacement Jeff Driskel at the Denver Broncos’ practice Wednesday, taking the so-called “mental reps” he wasn’t allowed to get last time he was sidelined.

Lock missed three months as a rookie in 2019 after spraining his right thumb in the preseason. He could miss three weeks after spraining his right shoulder Sunday at Pittsburgh.

“We considered putting him on IR,” coach Vic Fangio said. “But there’s a chance he may not have to miss three games. But at the same point, there’s a chance he might have to miss four or five. So, rather than eliminate the possibility of him coming back if he’s healthy enough, we’ve kept him on the active roster at this point.”

That way, Lock can return to practice any time his rotator cuff heals.

Driskel replaced Lock at Pittsburgh and will make his first start for the Broncos (0-2) on Sunday against Tampa Bay (1-1).

Driskel said nothing changes for him this week as he seeks his second career victory against a team led by Tom Brady, who last week won his 250th game, including playoffs.

“Every week, even if you’re not playing, you prepare like you’re going to be in there because you never know when your number’s going to be called,” said Driskel, who threw for 256 yards and two TDs in Denver’s 26-21 loss at Pittsburgh after Lock got hurt.

“You never want to see an injury but you always have to be prepared and ready for that if it happens. And so I felt prepared for the game,” Driskel said. “I didn’t get the reps, but I was dialed in mentally throughout the week and put the work in to make sure I was ready to go. And this week will be no different as far as my preparation.”

Except that he’s getting all the snaps while Lock looks on.

Free agent Blake Bortels is awaiting a series of negative COVID-19 tests so he can join the roster and serve, at least initially, as Driskel’s backup.

“He still has to go through the testing and the physical process,” Fangio said. “He might be in here (Thursday) at the earliest where he can join the meetings and join the team.”

The only other available quarterback is second-year practice squad passer Brett Rypien.

In addition to a cascade of injuries that have taken out Lock, Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay and Von Miller, the Broncos were hit with a costly fine because Fangio repeatedly removed his face mask in violation of the league’s coronavirus rules.

Coaches must wear face coverings over their noses and mouths at all times on the sideline. Fangio was fined $100,000 and the Broncos were docked $250,000 after Fangio failed to heed a strongly worded memo from the NFL last week.

One of several NFL coaches who were penalized this week, Fangio said he’s looking into wearing a face shield like Andy Reid.

“Yeah, I’m going to consider that,” Fangio said. “As a matter of fact, I was going to use it for the first game of the season and late in the process decided not to.”

Fangio said he’s been forgetting to put his mask up after taking it down to call in plays or speak with the officials. He said he’s also been pulling it down when his glasses fog up: “It’s all been subconsciously happening during the game,” he said.

“There’s no mystery of what’s happening and why it’s happening,” Fangio said. “I just have to do better with it and continue to do a better job of pulling it back up when I have a reason to pull it down.”

Like players and other club personnel, coaches are taking daily COVID-19 tests, wearing contact tracers and following other protocols designed to allow the NFL to complete a full season during the pandemic.

Asked if he felt the rules requiring the masks of coaches during games were for reasons of public health or public relations, Fangio responded: “I don’t know. I’m wearing it because the NFL says we have to wear it and I’m a loyal employee of the NFL and I’m going to do my best to do better with that.”