ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Quarterback Drew Lock took a step toward returning to the field Wednesday as he practiced for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on Sept. 20 against the Steelers.
Lock was officially listed as a limited participant, and he took part in the team's stretching period and threw the football during the media-viewing portion of practice.
The Broncos' quarterback fell on his throwing shoulder while being sacked by Bud Dupree in Week 2, but he avoided structural damage to his shoulder. Lock did not finish the game and did not play in Weeks 3 or 4.
Head Coach Vic Fangio said the team would evaluate Lock over the course of Wednesday's practice and the rest of the week before deciding whether he or Brett Rypien would start against the Patriots on Sunday.
"We'll see how he does and see if we can build it from there," Fangio said. "And based off all that and how he does the next few days, we'll decide."
Fangio said before practice that Lock was not scheduled to undergo a full workload on Wednesday.
"He'll partake in the individual period where there's a good amount of throwing going on there," Fangio said. "We'll see how he looks and judge it from there. We'll just constantly judge it throughout the practice and see where he's at. We're not going to give him a full workload today with today being his first day back at practice, but we'll let him do individual stuff and if that works well, we'll get him a few reps here and there and see how he wakes up feeling tomorrow and go from there."
As Lock moves closer to a return, Rypien will prepare for Sunday's game as if he will start against New England. Rypien said a week of full-speed reps with the first-team offense would help improve his play in what could be his second career start, but he emphasized that he's simply doing his best to help the team in Lock's absence. When the 2019 second-round pick is able to return to the field, Rypien will be prepared to support him.
"At the end of the day, I understand my role," Rypien said. "This is Drew Lock's team. Drew Lock has been the leader of this franchise for the past year, and he's done an unbelievable job at that. From my standpoint, I have to do what I can to help him and help this team win. And if that means playing this week and helping our team win this week, that's what I'm focused on. I don't really look at it from a standpoint of him taking an opportunity away from me, I look at it like I'm getting an opportunity and if he comes back, then that's an opportunity for me to help him."
While the Broncos must wait and see whether Lock can return this weekend, Fangio preemptively ruled out wide receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring) for the Week 5 game. He also said both tight end Noah Fant (ankle) and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder, on IR) were long shots to play against New England. Mike Purcell and Jeremiah Attaochu also did not practice, while Davontae Harris was limited.
Fangio confirmed that he expects Phillip Lindsay to make his return from a toe injury. Lindsay has not played since suffering the injury in the Broncos' season opener against Tennessee, but he was a full participant on Wednesday.