ENGLEWOOD, Colorado – As the Broncos wrapped up their day 7 practice, the offensive unit faced one of its biggest training camp tests.
Down seven points. A little over two minutes to play. Two dead times. Seventy-five meters to the end zone.
Drew Lock had the first chance to lead the unit on the field and he pushed the ball into the air. Lock found Courtland Sutton for a first down to start the drive, then completed five of his next six passes as the Broncos relied heavily on the passing offense. On the last game of practice, however, Lock was caught third between scrambling and throwing into dirt, and Justin Simmons had a diving interception in the end zone.
âTake care of the ball,â Lock said of his throw. âDon’t make that decision there. [I] was halfway between running and halfway between throwing. Just make a better decision. Jerry [Jeudy] had a good trip. Put it on top of him, or really throw him in the dirt and move on to the next room. Don’t go half and half. “
Teddy Bridgewater suffered the same fate in his own late-game streak. After making several passes to start the drive – a mix of intermediate and short throws – Bridgewater looked for rookie wide receiver Brendan Mack on the left sideline. The game was destined to end badly from the moment the ball left Bridgewater’s hand, as the two players were not on the same page on the course. Recently signed cornerback Rojesterman Farris landed his second interception from the camp to end training.
âYeah, that was a little misunderstanding,â Bridgewater said. “We’re going to work on that. I’m glad we’re making this mistake now and not in the game. We’ll meet, we’ll watch the tape later today. The defense came with the pressure. I think we didn’t. were not on the same wavelength, so [it’s] something that we can easily fix, and that’s not why we’re going to panic. “
Fangio, who said after practice that the Broncos will continue to work on this scenario, offered a clear and concise observation of the two records.
âIt’s a doable situation,â Fangio said. “We have to go do it.”
As the offensive reviews the film, defensive units can rely on the stops. Simmons continues to show a knack for game-changing games, and Farris has proven why the Broncos added him to their 90-man roster.
âWe obviously gave up some games, but because they needed a touchdown, we finally stopped them,â said Fangio. âIt all depends on the lens through which you are looking.
And until the Broncos return to practice on Friday, Lock knows he’ll hear his defensive teammates tell him how much they’ve got the upper hand.
âIt stings,â Lock said. “We’re going to go learn and we are going to go watch it. It’s more like these guys who go into the locker room and give you a little slap [on the butt]. We have to wait two days until we can come here and get one for me. They get the better of you, and that’s it. You have to take it like a man and go there with a smile on your face and say, ‘Hey, good game.’ “
Yet while every rep and every practice won’t end in a touchdown, Bridgewater and Lock both recognize the value of competing against a talented defense that earns them every score.
âYou watch today, with the type of defense we have, these guys are flying all over the place,â Bridgewater said. âThey’ve got so much energy. They’re excited and have arrogance, everything. As a quarterback, when you go up against that every day, it just raises your level of play. now we’ve just competed, trying to get our unit into the end zone and our defense has been stingy. “
If they can, Bridgewater said it doesn’t matter whether he or Lock wins the job.
“We are trying to get our team, to get our unit into the end zone,” said Bridgewater. “That’s the ultimate goal. Getting our unit into the end zone and protecting football. If we can do these things, it doesn’t matter who’s behind the center. This team will be successful.”
SUTTON TAKES A STEP FORWARD
While the Broncos offense couldn’t hit the ball late into the end zone, there were some brilliant moments earlier in practice. And while Jeudy and Noah Fant made some nice plays – more on that in a moment – Sutton has stood out on several occasions.
The 2019 Pro Bowler made at least five catches on Wednesday, including three in team drills that lasted at least 20 yards. On one of the down pitches, Sutton came back with one hand to stab a pass that was behind him and completed the catch for a solid win.
Barely a week after the start of camp, Sutton is already showing his quarterbacks that he is approaching full power.
âI was really happy to see Courtland do what he did today,â said Lock. “He’s glad to be back here. I think, slowly but surely [he’s getting closer]. Even these last few days you’ve really seen him take off and – I think he’s starting to feel a lot more comfortable here. I mean I don’t blame him. It’s a tough injury to overcome, especially as a receiver – cutting, changing direction. I think you saw a glimpse of more of the old “Court” today. It was fun to see him come back. “
Bridgewater is no stranger to the situation Sutton finds itself in. As Bridgewater entered his third season in the league – a year after making the Pro Bowl for the first time – he injured his own knee. Bridgewater’s injury was much more serious and cost him all of 2016 and most of 2017, but he can understand Sutton’s state of mind when he returns to the pitch.
âIt was great to see ‘Court’ make some catches today that he did,â said Bridgewater. âHe grabbed a butt kick; down and behind him he went to the ground. I mentioned something to ‘Court’ like last week. I said, ‘Dude, we’re in the same boat. ‘ He said to me, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, “Well, I happened to do Pro Bowl my second year as well, then my third year, boom. I had a knee injury. So, I understand what it’s going to take for you to get back to the player you want to be. So honestly, when he’s out there playing like today – we don’t want him to be on the ground – but if he’s on the ground doing acrobatic catches, if he stumbles and goes to the ground, it honestly gives him confidence. to continue to trust his knee more and that’s exciting for us. “
Lock, who relied on Sutton as his preferred target in 2019, saw enough to believe “absolutely” that Sutton is on track for a fully-fledged Week 1 performance.
âThere’s nothing in my bones that tells me he won’t come back to this,â Lock said. “He will absolutely be back in regular Courtland.”