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In first start of season, Drew Lock aims to show improved play and lead Broncos to win over rival Raiders

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Drew Lock approaches his first start of the season, the third-year quarterback is relishing the opportunity.

"I woke up with a big smile on my face this morning being able to come out here and be the guy this week for this team," Lock said Wednesday as his start against the Raiders nears.

Head Coach Vic Fangio on Wednesday ruled Teddy Bridgewater out of the Broncos' Week 16 game against the Raiders, which will lead to Lock starting his first game since last January. That last start, coincidentally, also came against the Raiders.

Since the end of that 2020 season, Lock believes he's taken a step forward as a quarterback.

"I absolutely do," Lock said when asked if he's a better player now. "There's a lot of work that's gone into my game — mentally and physically — up to this point. … Now it's time to put it all together and go show that I am a better quarterback than I was."

As Lock aims to lead the Broncos to a much-needed win and keep Denver in the playoff race, he should benefit from the additional reps he'll receive in practice.

"I think he'll be better at that [by] getting a whole week of practice, taking all the reps there — or getting the bulk of the reps — going through the experience he's gone through this year and coming in midstream during a game," Fangio said. "I think those will all work to his benefit to avoid that."

Lock said the reps — and being in the huddle during the week — should make a "big difference" as he tries to earn his first win since a Dec. 13, 2020 victory over the Panthers. That game sparked a strong end to Lock's season, as he finished the year with a seven-to-two touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The biggest challenge for Lock will to avoid turnovers and the urge to try to do too much for his team.

"I'm just focused on doing my job the best I can, because when I do my job the best I can, that's the best recipe for success for this team," Lock said. "Not worrying about anything else — not worrying about this and not worrying about that. 'What's my job on this play?' … I'm going to do this to my best ability."

Lock said he believes that despite a tough turnover and the end result, the Broncos found some success during his snaps against the Bengals.

"I was excited about some of the things that we did," Lock said. "Obviously there were some things that I want back. But I thought we moved the ball well, we got down in the red zone a couple times — just have to finish there, like I mentioned after the game. I feel like I was seeing it really well. The first couple games — it's different when you go in. It was my third time going [and] I felt like I knew what I needed to do during the week. I felt really good when I went in there. Now it's time to sum it all up, get a week in, and go out and play ball."

And as Lock aims to play his best football, he'll do so not for himself but for his teammates and the team's playoff chances.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that," Lock said when asked if he had something to prove. "I want to prove that we can go out and win this game, and not for me, but for this team and the Broncos in general and keep winning these games going forward depending on who's playing."

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