ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Most of the Broncos' starters will not play against the Rams on Saturday, Head Coach Vic Fangio announced Thursday.
"It's our fourth [preseason] game, not our third," Fangio said. "I just feel like that it's the best thing to do for our team right now."
Kevin Hogan will start at quarterback, and Brett Rypien will also play. Fangio said Rypien will play "a good bit" on Saturday but that reps will not be split evenly. He did not indicate which quarterback would receive more reps.
"[Hogan is] a smart guy," Fangio said. "He can run the offense and he's always been one of those guys that seems to make a play when there isn't one there — like the scramble he had the other night for the touchdown. He's got some playmaking and improvisation in his game."
Hogan, who finished 5-for-15 for 40 yards and a touchdown, said he has felt "better and better each week."
Against the Rams, he'll try to take the next step.
"I just want to show that I can run the offense, go be efficient, convert on third down and stay on the field," Hogan said Thursday. "I felt like we got off the field a little bit too much. And then get in the red zone and put stuff in the end zone. Try and get touchdowns instead of field goals."
Rypien, meanwhile, will look to take advantage of reps after not seeing game action since leading a game-winning touchdown drive against the Falcons in the Hall of Fame game.
"It is what it is," Rypien said. "I go out there and I'm still taking mental reps out there. I'm into the game, I'm listening to what's going on in the headsets and I'm making sure I'm listening to every call and taking in what's going on in the game, what the defense is doing, I'm looking at the pictures on the sideline as well, so it's been good for me."
Tight end Jake Butt could catch his first pass of the preseason from either Hogan or Rypien. Butt did not play in the Broncos' first three preseason games as he tries to return from a knee injury.
Fangio said Butt "might" play against the Rams.
"We're going to see how he does again today and make a decision after that," Fangio said Thursday.
LOCK VOWS TO KEEP STYLE OF PLAY INTACT
Fangio isn't ready to say that Drew Lock had won the backup quarterback competition before suffering a thumb injury on Monday night, but the Broncos' head coach indicated the rookie had made good progress.
"He was improving daily and I saw good strides," Fangio said. "I'd say he was tracking towards that. I wouldn't say he had it yet."
Fangio said it would be "some time" before the team knows where Lock is at in his recovery and that placing Lock on injured reserve may be an option.
"It could be if we don't think he can play for a while," Fangio said. "The bad thing about it is because of the injury he can't do much."
Lock, who said he hasn't before had a sprain this serious, wouldn't speculate about when he may return.
"[I'm] trusting the [training] staff in there to get me back as soon as possible," Lock said. "Whenever that is, we'll decide on whenever I'm 100 percent ready to go."
While he remains out, Lock said he'll increase his work off the field to ensure he doesn't fall off track after making strides earlier in the preseason.
"Whatever I was doing to be ready for a game or be ready for a practice, I've just got to do about two times as many as that because I'm not going to get the reps out there on the field," Lock said. "Like I said last time, we have the VR (virtual reality training) stuff upstairs that is going to be heavily used. I've just got to stay on top of everything."
Despite the injury, Lock said he won't change how he plays.
"You always get talked to as a quarterback," Lock said. "You can get down and avoid a tackle. Go ahead and do that or get out of bounds. But no, that is kind of who I am. I feel like that's what got me here, so stopping that any time now because I had this little kind of freak injury happen, that's just not who I'm going to be as a quarterback."
Nose tackle Shelby Harris did not participate in Thursday's practice, during which the Broncos wore helmets and jerseys.
Tackle John Leglue and wide receiver Nick Williams appeared to be absent from Thursday's practice.
Head Coach Vic Fangio did not address the status of the three players during his press conference ahead of Thursday's practice.
Quarterback Drew Lock (thumb), running back Theo Riddick (shoulder), cornerback Bryce Callahan (foot), fullback Andy Janovich (pectoral), linebacker Joe Jones (upper arm), linebacker Todd Davis (calf), linebacker Joe Dineen (hand), guard Ron Leary (knee) and tight end Jeff Heuerman (shoulder) also missed practice.
Noah Fant, who suffered an ankle injury against the 49ers, participated in the team's stretching period.