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Rodgers can wait: Broncos' OTAs begin Lock vs. Bridgewater battle

The Denver Broncos will have first offseason quarterback battle since 2017 when Trevor Siemian beat out Paxton Lynch.

DENVER — It’s the quarterback competition that few seem to want.

Drew Lock vs. Teddy Bridgewater.

Are we going to get Aaron Rodgers?

Mr. Rodgers, and Denver Broncos fans, will have to wait. The Green Bay Packers have yet to surrender the thought of not retaining their star quarterback. And there is hope around these parts, maybe even an expectation around the NFL landscape, that the Packers will have no choice but to eventually say, “Uncle.” Until then, life goes on with the start of OTAs (organized team activities) on Monday.

Over the next three weeks, the Broncos will hold 10 full-team OTA practices – and by full team, the expectation is all but a handful to two handfuls of players. This will be followed by another week in mid-June of mandatory minicamp, in which there most likely will be a full roster of players in attendance.

There were no offseason practices last summer, and a young Lock with his mere five NFL starts appeared to have suffered accordingly. His first full season in 2020 didn’t go as planned as he went 4-9 in 13 starts with 16 touchdown passes against a league-most 15 interceptions for a 75.4 passer rating that ranked 32nd among the 35 qualifying quarterbacks.

> Video above: Klis and Tell: Mike evaluates the Broncos draft and talks QB competition.

RELATED: More than 70 Broncos players show up Monday for start of Phase II offseason program

New Broncos’ general manager George Paton and head coach Vic Fangio reacted by sending Lock the message that he will continue as the Broncos’ starting quarterback only if he earns it by beating out the legitimate threat that is Bridgewater.

A first-round draft pick of Paton’s Minnesota Vikings in 2014, Bridgewater played well early in his career, then bounced around after a gruesome knee injury suffered in practice a week prior to the start of the 2016 season. He was playing well through 10 games with the Carolina Panthers last season, throwing 13 touchdowns against 7 interceptions for a 98.7 passer rating that ranked 12th in the league.

Credit: AP Images

But a low sack hit by Tampa Bay’s Jason Pierre-Paul left Bridgewater with a knee injury that forced him to miss one game, and he wasn’t nearly as effective in his final five. He wound up ranked 22nd in the league after throwing just 2 touchdowns against 4 interceptions in those final five games.

Carolina moved on from Bridgewater after just one season, sending him to the Broncos for a sixth-round draft pick and agreeing to pay $7 million of his $11.5 compensation package for 2021.

The Broncos are paying the decent – but hardly record-breaking – backup QB sum of $4.5 million. Bridgewater at the very least will push Lock and at most will be given a legit chance to win the starting job outright.

Fangio told 9News on May 1 that the reps split between Lock and Bridgewater “will be something that at the end of the day, maybe not at the end of every day, but over the course of OTAs and training camp, it’ll be 50-50.”

RELATED: Fangio: Lock-Bridgewater to split QB reps '50-50'

It's the first time since 2017, when Trevor Siemian again beat out the previous year's first-round pick Paxton Lynch, that the Broncos have had an offseason QB competition.

For personal reasons, Bridgewater didn’t participate in the Broncos’ Phase II football fundamental drills last week, as Lock did, and will be practicing with the Broncos for the first time Monday.

It would figure that Lock would get the first reps Monday as Bridgewater works his way into the playbook and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s system.

Bronco Bits

Running back Melvin Gordon III will be among the players who prefers to continue working out on his own and won’t attend OTAs. “I have a regiment I like to stick to,’’ Gordon told 9News on Sunday. “I’ll be there for the minicamp.” …

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (25) runs against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Broncos 7th-round rookie linebacker Jonathon Cooper did not fly Friday to Denver as initially hoped following his ablation heart procedure on May 12. Multiple doctors have collaborated to recommend he wait a few more days before travelling. The bigger goal remains for Cooper to be cleared and full go by the start of training camp.

RELATED: Bradley Chubb has minor ankle procedure with expectation he'll be ready for training camp

RELATED: Broncos promote Darren Mougey to be Paton's right-hand man

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