ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Brandon Allen and Drew Lock play the same position on the same team, but their experiences will significantly differ in the days leading up to Denver's Week 11 game against the Vikings.
Allen is slated to start Sunday's game in Minnesota after he led the Broncos to a 24-19 win in his first career start. Lock, meanwhile, is in the midst of his first week of practice since he injured his thumb against the 49ers on Aug. 19.
Yet while each player finds himself in a different position than his peer, Allen and Lock are both the focus of near equal levels of attention.
Allen, who completed 12-of-20 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 9 win, will aim to prove he can replicate that success — and then some.
"I think he can play better than he played in the last game," Head Coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday. "He missed some throws that I think he can make. When you’re playing a team as good as the Vikings all around, we can’t be missing throws that he’s got to make. He’s got to make the throws that are makeable and not miss any. He missed a few the first day.”
Allen attributed the misses to a combination of poor technique and being over-hyped for his first career regular-season snaps.
Lock's immediate goal will be to run the Broncos' offense efficiently and without mistakes on the practice field.
“It had been a long time," Lock said. "I was like a dream come true coming back out here. It’s like I’m starting my journey back in the NFL all over again. It feels good to be finally back out there with the guys. It’s different because you’re involved with the team when you’re not practicing but it doesn’t feel the same when you’re not actually out there doing it with them. To finally be able to be out there and be around the guys and toss the ball around a little bit. It felt really good.”
Lock said he thinks he remains mentally sharp after the layoff because of his film study and work with the Broncos' virtual-reality aids.
Fangio said Lock "did fine" on Tuesday and that the team would increase his snaps in the Broncos' offense as the week continues.
And while Allen will start Sunday and Lock will "probably not" be activated to the team's roster to serve as the backup this week, both players have expressed their desire to play.
"Any guy that is a competitor is going to want to play today," Lock said. "I want to play badly, but again, I’ve said it before, I trust the coaches. I trust their plan for me. If their plan is three weeks their plan is three weeks. If their plan is two, whatever — whatever their plan is, I’ll be here and ready for them.”
Lock said he doesn't view the final portion of the season as his chance to audition to be the Broncos' long-term starting quarterback. Instead, he'll just aim to be the same quarterback that impressed the Broncos ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft and during this offseason.
"I’m looking at just trying to get back to being me, not trying to prove anything too fast — just trying to get back to being me, who I know I am as a quarterback," Lock said. "If that’s who they want as their long-term guy then so be it.”
Allen said his focus remains on playing well and winning — and everything else hardly matters.
"My biggest thing I’ve always thought is I can only control the things that I can control," said Allen when asked about the media attention given to Lock's status. "That’s something that I can’t control. My focus is playing well this week, playing well in practice all week and doing my job when I’m out there. I think everything else is going to work itself out, and I’m just going to keep trying to play to the best of my abilities.”
That means while the team continues forward with its plan for Lock, Allen will worry about earning a win in his first career road start.
"I think there is a plan for him." Allen said. "Like I said, my focus is really just sticking to this game plan and trying to get a win this week. Anything else that happens from there, you’ll hear about it.”
Each quarterback has his own challenges ahead, and the Broncos will aim to balance developing the two young quarterbacks as they also try to win games.
"Obviously, our priority is winning games, but developing players — not just quarterbacks — is always a priority," Fangio said. "Brandon’s one of those players along with Drew, and again, Drew hadn’t done anything. ... Tuesday was the first time he’s been on the practice field since early August, so there’s a lot of work to be done.”