ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —Drew Lock didn't deny the Broncos are in a time crunch.
As the Broncos aim to install a new offense ahead of their Sept. 14 season opener against the Titans, they'll have little time to waste. Any buffer space was eliminated as teams across the league lost on-field reps this offseason because of the novel coronavirus.
But even as the Broncos sit just 45 days from their season opener, the second-year quarterback won't use the truncated practice window as an excuse. Just days after John Elway said expectations needed to be tempered for Lock and the offense, the Broncos' starter said his expectations haven't changed.
"Not being able to be with the guys as much as you normally would is not going to change how I feel going into the season," Lock said Friday. "I still want to do the things pre-COVID that I thought we could do this year. I still want to do those things even though COVID hit the country and hit us and allowed us not to be with each other. Also, the real factor of it is that, yes, we didn't get enough time with each other. We're going to have a shortened period of time where we're going to have to pick up a lot of things extremely quickly. It might not be the prettiest at first, but our job is to make the mistake, learn from it and try not to make that mistake more than once because we really don't have time to keep making the same mistakes.
"… I'm still expecting the same things from us this year because we're going to put in the extra work to be able to make up for that time lost."
While the on-field practice time has been limited, Lock said there are some benefits to the exclusively virtual work the Broncos put in during the offseason. And as Lock and the team's rookies begin walkthroughs at UCHealth Training Center, he said he feels "right at home" in Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur's offense.
"I think this is where COVID kind of comes into play, where, yes, we could have gotten right into running it on the field, but if you're more of a guy who likes to see it, likes to draw it up on the board, likes to hear it from the coach multiple times before you go out and run it, that's exactly what we got," Lock said. "We got a lot of time to sit together as a quarterback room and even by yourself at home. It allows you an opportunity to go over the plays multiple times a day to where when you go out there and you're running certain install, whatever, you've heard this play, you've seen this play, you know everything that's going on because you've been able to sit there for however many months and go over it to be prepared for when you finally got to be out on the field, which was now for us."
Now that the Broncos are back on the field and back in the huddle, Lock can display a degree of leadership that he tried to limit early in his time as a rookie. The respect he now has from his teammates was earned across his time on injured reserve as a rookie, across his five starts and across this past offseason. Lock said earning that respect was his first goal as a quarterback, and he believes the relationship he now has with his teammates will prove valuable in training camp and this fall.
"For me to be able to feel like what I did last year and the comments from everyone this offseason and just being able to walk into the locker room and feel like I have the respect of everybody, that is 100 percent the one goal that I set for that first year, just gaining respect from this team," Lock said. "Now that I have that, there's no worries about personalities [or] making relationships because we all know who I am. I know everybody on this team, I know how they act, I know who they are as person. Now it's time for ball, to where if I need to jump someone, I'm not the rookie anymore yelling at a third- [or] fourth-year guy. It's 'That's Drew yelling at us. That's Drew getting on us.' It's a whole different mentality behind having a second-year quarterback rather than a rookie quarterback."
If Lock does get after his teammates following a bad rep, it's tied back to his desire to meet expectations. That, in part, is why he emphasized that he thinks he and his teammates won't waste time at the facility and will take the proper safety precautions while away from UCHealth Training Center.
"I think everyone gets 24 hours in a day," Lock said. "We're all allowed the same amount of time in our facility. We all have professional coaches that have been in this game for a long time. We all get to learn and be with them the same amount of time. It's an even playing ground. It's just going to be what we do with the time that we get together. Yes, we are young, but when you're young, you're pretty hungry right as you get in here."
If there is an adjustment period for the young offense, Lock's job will be to shorten that as much as possible. When Shurmur installed his offense in New York in 2018, the process didn't take horribly long.
After scoring 15 and 13 points in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, the Giants scored at least 27 points in two of their next three games. Following their Week 9 bye week, New York met that 27-point mark in six of eight games.
Perhaps, aided by a strong defense, Lock and Co. can better that output — both on the scoreboard and in the win column. Despite their scoring success late in the year, the Giants finished just 5-11. Denver's veteran defense, though, could help the Broncos form a more complete team.
Time is certainly limited. Just 45 days remain before the season opener. Drew Lock, though, seems motivated to make every moment count.