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#BroncosCamp Observations: QB Drew Lock shines as Broncos put pads on

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — During Day 3 of Broncos training camp, Drew Lock looked the part as the team's potential franchise quarterback.

In 11-on-11 drills, as Denver's first-team offense took reps against the second-team defense, Lock looked in control of the team's offense as he completed pass after pass.

The level of competition wasn't the same that Lock would face against a secondary that features Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan or a pass rush that includes Von Miller, Bradley Chubb or Jurrell Casey. But against the second-team defense, Lock seemed as poised, calm and comfortable as you'd want your quarterback to look against a team's reserve unit.

In particular, Lock's decision-making and accuracy were both strong during 11-on-11 work, as he completed passes to a host of players that included Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. Incompletions were rare, as a Josey Jewell pass breakup and missed deep connection with Fant were among the only blemishes on the day.

Even when Lock faced the first-team defense in 7-on-7 work, he still managed to connect with Sutton and Jerry Jeudy.

The second-year player still has plenty of room to grow, but Monday's practice appeared to be his best yet of camp and signal his potential in Shurmur's offense.

"I think it's a testament to all the coaches on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball," Lock said of the offense's early success. "The defense got us a little bit that first day, but it's the same thing — [a] testament to our coaches here. They didn't have a lot of time to get us ready, and like you said, for how young we are, [it's] the first time learning an NFL offense for a lot of these guys. This is a brand-new offense for the whole offense. It's literally been a culmination of one little baby step at a time. … I think our coaches are doing a good job of keeping us ahead of schedule on these scripts and plays in general. We've just got to keep piling it on and not let it overwhelm us as a young offense."

Lock didn't turn the ball over Monday, but he was still able to push the ball down the field. He said he will maintain his aggressive mentality, and Head Coach Vic Fangio is on the same page as the young quarterback.

"You always want your quarterback to have the attitude to stretch the limits with obviously the caution and the knowing in the back of his mind that we do not want to turn the ball over," Fangio said. "We don't want to have the mentality of not turning the ball over to the point where we never push the ball downfield either. We're trying to challenge the defense in some tight throwing lanes. We have to be able to do that without turning the ball over. Yeah, I do want to see him do that both for our offense and his learning experience — what can he fit in and what can't he fit in at different times."

MAKING THE MOST OF HIS CHANCE

Jake Butt had perhaps his most productive day of practice, as he caught at least four passes via a variety of routes. He showed his athleticism as he caught a deep post, and he also showed his positional versatility as a unique play design helped get him open against the first-team defense.

"I think Jake is way ahead of where he was last year at this time," Fangio said. "To quote him, he feels the best he's felt in a long, long time. I think he's looked out there not just today but all the days he's been out there. He had a great offseason. Hopefully we'll see the real Jake Butt here this season."

Added Lock: "There's nobody in our locker room that doesn't want to see Jake Butt succeed. [He's] one of the best teammates that we have in this locker room. For him to push and grind through all the injuries he's had. For him to come out — he reported early with us. Right from the get-go I could tell. He's not 100 percent back to normal — obviously, you can never get back to normal after a knee [injury] — but he's as close as you can possibly get after having those surgeries. The guy is playing some really good ball. He's super smart and a little more athletic than people give him credit for."

A BATTLE AT CB

Cornerback De'Vante Bausby recorded another pass breakup on Monday, a day after he recorded an interception. He continued to rotate with Isaac Yiadom and Davontae Harris at the third cornerback position.

"It's too early right now to see any separation amongst those three guys," Fangio said. "They're all doing fine. They all have their ups and downs throughout the day. We've got to work hard to eliminate the downs or to minimize them — the more appropriate word in today's world is to mitigate them. Bausby should be in the best spot he's been in in his career. This is the first time he's had some continuity, meaning he was here last year, he has experience with us prior to that and he's coming in to his second year here with the Broncos albeit that he did miss the last 11 or 12 games last year. He should be in the best spot of his career. If he's going to show that he belongs in the NFL on a consistent basis, this is the year he should do it."

SNAPPING TO DREW

The Broncos continued their rotation at center on Monday, and Fangio said Austin Schlottmann, Patrick Morris and rookie third-round pick Lloyd Cushenberry III all remain in the mix to start at the position.

"All three of them are getting reps in there," Fangio said. "It's way too early to say one guy's in the lead or not, but all three guys have the license to go get that job. We like all three so them, so we feel good about it."

PUTTING ON PADS

The Broncos were in pads for the first time Monday, but the team's practice wasn't quite at the level that Vic Fangio expected.

"It was just OK," Fangio said. "It wasn't as crisp as I thought it would be. It was just OK."

The Broncos practiced for just 90 minutes, and that will ramp up to 105 minutes on Tuesday. By Friday, the team's practices will be as long as 2.5 hours.

QUICK HITS

  • Linebackers Todd Davis and Alexander Johnson showed their physicality on several run plays, including the biggest pop of the day, when Davis met Phillip Lindsay at the end of a reception. The two players chatted for a moment after the hit, tapped each other on their respective helmets and headed back to the huddle.
  • Jerry Jeudy continued to impress. He ran a crossing route midway through practice in which the defensive back wasn't able to stay within 5 yards of him. Later, he used a quick stutter step at the line of scrimmage to create separation between him and another defensive back.
  • Miller and Chubb again had good days and would've racked up several sacks while working against the Broncos' second-team tackles.
  • Jewell showed good awareness during his pass breakup on Lock, as he sat in the throwing lane and knocked down a pass intended for Fant.
  • Reserve quarterback Brett Rypien made some nice plays early in practice, while Jeff Driskel rebounded from a tough practice on Sunday.
  • Both Lindsay and Melvin Gordon III took advantage of putting the pads on. Lindsay got free a couple of times via some nice blocking by the offensive line, and Gordon ran through a couple of would-be tacklers during his reps.
  • Wide receiver Juwann Winfree continued to work on a side field for the second consecutive day, while fullback/tight end Andrew Beck returned to practice after being activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
  • Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar was back at practice after missing Sunday's session.
  • Wide receiver KJ Hamler practiced Monday after leaving Sunday's practice early.
  • Seventh-round pick Derrek Tuszka showed a nice rush against the third-team offensive line.

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