Since the immediate aftermath of the Denver Broncos' Week 9 win over the Dallas Cowboys, third-year quarterback Drew Lock has been on the reserve/COVID-19 list. On Saturday, with Denver's bye week just about in the books, the team activated Lock per Ryan O'Halloran of the Denver Post.
"Broncos activate QB Drew Lock off COVID-19/reserve list so he'll be available to practice Monday. (Brett Rypien was back-up against Dallas, Philadelphia)," O'Halloran tweeted.
A short time later, long-time NFL reporter Aaron Wilson reported that the Broncos also activated linebacker Justin Strnad and cornerback Michael Ojemudia. Strnad was the first linebacker the Broncos turned to in the wake of losing Josey Jewell for the season but after a few weeks of very poor play, he lost his starting job when the team turned to rookie Baron Browning and acquired Kenny Young via trade.
Still, despite Strnad obviously not being quite ready for primetime action in Year 2, he's a good depth piece to have. As for Ojemudia, this is actually pretty big news since he's been on ice all season long.
Ojemudia — Denver's third-round pick last year — suffered a knee injury in the preseason. Just as he was getting back into football shape and poised to return to the roster, he tested positive for COVID-19 on November 9.
Lock's return to the roster is timely and while it gives the Broncos flexibility behind Teddy Bridgewater, I would caution against viewing it as some harbinger of a quarterback change coming in Week 12. Head coach Vic Fangio made it clear on Monday that there will be no changes under center. It's the status quo.
With Lock on the reserve/COVID-19 list, he wouldn't have been able to practice this week but since it's the bye, the Broncos didn't hold any activities outside of Monday's post-mortem team meeting following the ugly loss to Philadelphia. In other words, if the Broncos truly were looking for a spark, knowing that Lock would be coming off the reserve list by this weekend, well in time to be available to practice all of next week, it's not a plausible excuse for why Fangio is sticking with Teddy.
However, Fangio won't be able to weather the PR firestorm much longer if Bridgewater continues to preside over humiliating home losses. It's only a matter of time that Lock gets tapped to return to the starting lineup — unless Teddy turns the ship around.
That remains a distinct possibility, as unlikely as it may seem at this moment in time. Sitting at 5-5, the Broncos are technically right in the thick of things coming out of their bye so the team brass will continue to operate under its Plan A protocols — until the playoffs either become mathematically impossible or a pronounced losing streak places the team on the precipice of elimination.
Outside of that, or an injury to Bridgewater, or Fangio getting fired, the read on the situation is that Lock won't see the field. Bear down, Broncos Country. And hope that somehow, someway, this team undergoes a mighty change of heart over the course of the bye and comes out next week at home against the Los Angeles Chargers recharged and ready to silence the doubters.
Let's just say I'm not holding my breath.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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