ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Matthew Stafford was the first star quarterback the Broncos went after to replace Drew Lock.
Then it appeared Deshaun Watson and the Broncos might court each other.
Teddy Bridgewater was the veteran fallback plan for a couple months before he became reality as quarterback competition for Drew Lock.
The still incumbent starter Drew Lock. He’s still the Broncos’ quarterback and while there was no 11-man defense he faced in the OTA opening practice Monday, Lock did throw the ball better than Bridgewater.
Did all the quarterback trade reports bother him?
"No,’’ he said in a Zoom press conference Monday following the Broncos’ first OTA practice. “Believe it or not, no. It did not because I decided that I was going to develop a plan this offseason. It was going to be really long days, but it was going to be worth every single second of it because regardless of what happened -- if I stayed here, I left or they brought someone in -- my mindset was not going to change wherever I went.
“If I went somewhere or if I stayed here, I was going to be the guy. I put every single ounce in that this offseason. Being able to do that gave me zero time to listen to all of this stuff. Maybe I'll go back one day, read and laugh about things that were being said by people who ended up being completely wrong."
OK, great answer by an elite competitor. But people aren’t wrong. Just because deals didn’t materialize didn’t mean there was no attempt. And the trade speculation isn’t finished. In fact, there is still another doozy out there. Aaron Rodgers, the disgruntled star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, has been widely connected with the Broncos as his new team.
“There is? OK,’’ Lock said. “No, we had a great practice today. We dove into the script that we had for the last couple of days getting ready for this. I was happy with the way we played out there. My number one concern was how I was going to play in the 7-on-7 stuff that we had today. I know that was it. We didn't have any full team, but we did 7-on-7 and that was my biggest thing and my focus these last couple of weeks. I kept things the same over these last couple of weeks even as staff started popping up."
Lock showed up sporting a shorter, more businesslike hair style. Businesslike for a more dedicated 24-year-old who hasn’t lost his personality, anyway. Lock spent some QB tutoring time with the most serious offseason QB of all-time in local Denver resident Peyton Manning.
“Subtle things. You just like having more eyes on film and on technique,’’ Lock said of his interactions with Manning. “Hearing from a guy that did it the best for a really long time was nice to be able to have in my corner."
Lock has visibly changed to the Peyton stance from the shotgun. Instead of having his right foot back to the throwing position, Lock has both feet equally spread at shoulder length. He worked on his physical frame. He worked on his footwork. He worked on progressions with his receivers and reading defenses through film work.
"It kind of all intertwined together,’’ Lock said. “One, working on my body first. With (strength coach Loren) Landow, working with Brett Eisen our nutritionist here. Being able to start there. And then it became football really quickly after.
“As far as me possibly finally being in the offense that I ran the year before, it was really fun to be able to do stuff towards that this offseason. Being able to learn some more, being able to dive in and being able to go back in watch, all of the things I watch now -- I wasn't very good. How do I make that better? What was I doing wrong?
“Instead of having to start over new like I did in years before, I feel way more comfortable in this stuff that is going on, especially just being out there today. I can feel how much more comfortable I am. It also evolved into not just the mental side of it, but the footwork stuff. Being able to do some stuff in my basement where I could do a lot of drops down there, put the TV up, hook the laptop up and just find ways to take your time through drops when you're in Denver in January and February and it's a little chilly outside. I managed and kind of adapted so to say."
Several of Lock’s teammates have been impressed with how he’s handled all the reports laced with the underlying message his starting job was in trouble.
“You guys have given him a hard time, just like you gave me a hard time,” said Broncos’ left tackle Garett Bolles, beleaguered for three years until last season when he became second team All Pro to earn a $17 million a year contract extension. “But I know he’s thankful for those moments. It’s just a motivational factor to prove everyone wrong. …
“If there’s anyone out there who knows what he’s going through it’s me personally. I know what it is when people don’t like you and hate you and don’t want you here in Denver. But you block out the noise and do everything you possibly can. I’ve talked to Drew multiple times. He seems like he’s in a great place mentally. I want nothing but the best for that kid.’’