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Broncos notes: Practice reps say Drew Lock is the new No. 2 quarterback

Fangio won't make Lock's promotion official. Jamal Carter moves from safety to linebacker. George Aston now team's one and only healthy fullback.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Through actions, if not the head coach’s words, Drew Lock has been promoted to No. 2 quarterback.

And another Broncos’ rookie, Brett Rypien, is the new No. 3 QB.

Kevin Hogan, the veteran who had been No. 2 through the entire offseason and first three weeks of training camp, is now the scout team quarterback.

At least that’s how the team reps were divvied up Sunday as the Broncos returned to practice following their preseason game Thursday at Seattle.

Is that how we should say it, coach Vic Fangio?

“I’m not,’’ Fangio said. “You can, but I’m not.”

For clarity, Joe Flacco still took all the snaps with the first-team offense. He also had arguably his most effective practice to date as his deep and intermediate passing sliced up the Broncos’ No. 2 defense.

But even if there was no official depth chart shakeup pronouncement from Fangio, Lock took every snap with the second-team offense. And he was followed by Rypien.

It’s possible Hogan is still the No. 2 quarterback but relegated to a holding pattern. But it’s also apparent the team is giving Lock and Rypien every opportunity to make enough plays to beat Hogan out.

Actions say this is no longer a competition for the No. 2 quarterback because it’s no longer about Hogan. It’s about whether Lock proves he can continue to develop into a quarterback who would be one play away from replacing Flacco in an NFL regular-season game.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) takes part in drills during the opening day of the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If Lock builds on his encouraging preseason performance from Thursday night against Seattle, Hogan is in trouble. If Lock looks more like the quarterback who struggled in the preseason opener Aug. 8 against Atlanta, Hogan could survive by default.

This week may resolve the issue as besides the final two open-to-public training camp practices Monday and Tuesday at UCHealth Training Center, and closed practice Thursday, the Broncos will have joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers on Friday and Saturday, followed by a preseason game Monday night at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

The Broncos’ braintrust will have a pretty fair evaluation of Lock by then. Until then, Hogan has little choice but to hang with ‘em.

Position switch

The Broncos have moved strong safety Jamal Carter to inside linebacker. Fangio’s defense typically plays its safeties two-high rather than one high and one low, so it wasn’t fitting Carter’s strengths. Carter hits better than he covers.

“I've been wanting to play this since high school and college,’’ Carter said of the move to linebacker. “I like being in the trenches. I'm a physical specimen. I don't like being too deep away from arms and contact. It’s going to fit me.”

Ladies and gentlemen, George Aston

With Jake Butt returning to the practice field if on a limited basis Sunday, it’s possible the Broncos address the absence of fullback Andy Janovich by moving a tight end to the H-back/fullback position for the first two to four games of the season. Janovich is expected to return from his pec injury no later than game five at the Los Angeles Chargers.

But until Butt proves he’s healthy enough to play, the Broncos have just one other fullback on their roster – George Aston, an undrafted rookie from Pitt.

In the first team period Sunday, Aston played fullback with the No. 1 offense, then went back out there to play with the No. 3 offense.

Did it make him nervous to line up behind Flacco and the starters?

“I wasn’t nervous but I knew coming into today it was going to be kinda cool -- Joe Flacco is my quarterback,’’ Aston said. “So that was pretty cool.’’

Bronco Bits

Starting safety Kareem Jackson sat out practice Sunday with a sore hamstring. Will Parks moved from No. 3 safety to starter alongside his draft class partner Justin Simmons. …

Besides Butt, tight end Bug Howard also returned to practice. …

Starting inside linebacker Josey Jewell (oblique) returned to practice but only briefly participated. Starting cornerback Bryce Callahan (foot) participated in 7 on 7, but not the 11-on-11 team period. …

In a surprise move, the Broncos waived outside linebacker Jeff Holland and signed undrafted rookie cornerback Rashard Causey. The Broncos gave Holland the same $15,000 signing bonus as Phillip Lindsay to top their undrafted rookie class of 2018. It’s safe to say their professional careers have gone different ways from there. …

After second-string safety Su’a Cravens was involved in a brief altercation, he was benched for the remainder of practice and Dymonte Thomas was moved up from No. 3 defense to No. 2.



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