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Drew Lock progressing as Broncos 'had hoped,' has room to improve ahead of test vs. Chiefs

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Drew Lock did what he was supposed to do.

In his second career start, he put together a better performance than he delivered in his first regular-season snaps.

That's all Head Coach Vic Fangio wanted to see.

"I do think he played much better yesterday than he did the week before," Fangio said Monday. "I thought his passing was more accurate and more crisp than it was the week before. He made some plays with his legs, which was good. I think overall he's had a good two-week start to his career."

It just so happens that Lock took a big step forward. In the Broncos' 38-24 win over the Texans, Lock became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in his first road start.

But with the Chiefs looming in Week 15, that's all it is.

"It's two games," Fangio said. "Who's [looking] long-term right now? He's doing good. He's done well for two games. That's about all it is."

Fangio said he hopes to see "more of the same" from Lock as the rookie prepares for his third start — and his first against the team for which he grew up cheering.

"Maybe be clean and not throw a pick this game," said Fangio when asked how Lock can improve. "Really, he's just progressing the way we had hoped — better in Week 2 than he was in Week 1. I thought he felt comfortable out there. I think it was good that we got him his first start at home so when he got his first start on the road it wasn't his overall first start. We have to go play another really good team this week. He's going to have to deal with the hometown stuff that you guys and they will want to write about. I feel good [with] where he's at."

Lock showed particular promise on third down. He helped the Broncos convert five of their first six third downs, as he completed 5-of-5 passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns on third down. Lock scrambled for another first down. The Broncos also picked up a new set of downs via a third-down defensive holding penalty.

The Broncos finished 5-of-8 on third down, as Lock took a fourth-quarter sack on third-and-16 and then Denver elected to hand off to Royce Freeman on a third-and-6 on their final possession.

"He did a good job of seeing what they were in and where to go with the ball and made good throws," Fangio said. "That's what helped keep drives going. Third down is a big down in the NFL."

Three of Lock's eight longest throws of the game came on third down.

As Lock continues to play and defenses have more film from which to prepare, Fangio said the Broncos must stay balanced as an offense.

"Just having good balance," Fangio said. "Balance just doesn't mean run and pass. Balance means types of passes, types of formations, where you're looking to throw the ball. Balance has a multitude of meanings, not just run and pass, but what kinds of runs, what kinds of passes, formations, when you're throwing, when you're not, etc."

At some point, the opposing defense will likely find success against Lock — and that's when he must respond. Fangio, though, thinks Lock has the right attitude for when things aren't going perfectly.

"Just go move on to the next play," said Fangio of what he hopes to see from Lock when facing adversity. "Don't let a negative play have a hangover and don't let it affect the next play. One bad play doesn't need to be proceeded by a future bad play.

"I think he's got that mentality. I hope so."

ROOM TO IMPROVE

In his return to Houston, Kareem Jackson tallied 11 tackles, three passes defensed, an interception and a 70-yard touchdown.

As Fangio said after Sunday's game, he had "a hell of a game."

But even after Jackson's best statistical performance of the season, Fangio sees room for him to grow at safety.

"There are things that he can do better than he has been doing," Fangio said. "He still shows at times lack of safety experience and lack of clean knowledge of everything, but overall we've been very happy with him. We were forced to play him at nickel some early in the year. I think that set him back a little bit. I even thought about playing him at corner. We never did, but I did think about it. For his benefit I just wanted him to keep developing at safety."

Jackson played corner almost exclusively during his nine years in Houston.

"I mean there are some fine points that he isn't clean on yet at times," Fangio said. "One or two of them show up every game and show up out on the practice field every now and then. What little experience he had at safety in Houston, and it was very little, really hadn't had much carryover to here and the way we play. Then he had some hamstring issues in camp if you remember and missed about 10 days, I think. He's just — he could be better. … I'm not trying to sound like Debbie Downer here after he had a hell of a game yesterday, but there's room for improvement there."

FANT'S BIG DAY

Tight end Noah Fant posted the second 100-yard receiving game of his rookie season against the Texans to become just the sixth rookie tight end in NFL history to have multiple such games.

He now leads all rookie tight ends in receptions and receiving yards. His three touchdown catches rank second behind Oakland's Foster Moreau's five scores.

"I think he's been up and down a little bit the entire season," Fangio said. "A lot of that is translated [to] how many catches is he getting and how many yards is he getting. Those aren't going to be there each and every week. He made a really good catch on the first play and turned it into a 48-yard gain. Ran a good route and catch for the touchdown. I think he's progressing, and I think the future is bright for him."

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