Even in the Hollywood movie Field of Dreams, the ghostly baseball all-stars led by ‘Shoeless Joe’ Jackson eventually got frustrated in being limited to facing each other only in practice. Fresh off the first training camp depth chart, which established that quarterbacks Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater are indeed co-starters, the Denver Broncos have landed in Minnesota to welcome joint practice sessions with the Vikings.
Ahead of flying north for his team's first preseason game on Saturday, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio held a light practice session on Tuesday that resembled more of a walk-through. Afterward, explained to media how much these scrimmages will impact the respective points of the currently embattled Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater in the quarterback duo's open competition for the starting job.
“Ultimately the decision will be a total examination of everything from the start of training camp to the day we make the decision," Fangio said. "Obviously, I think games, these practices we have coming up [will be important]. We had a really good practice the other day where it was upscale a little bit. They all factor in. There is no grading scale, but ultimately, we’ve got to go by what we see. We’re keeping track of things statistically, more deep stats than what you guys would do, and they’ll be there for the information.”
Fangio named Lock as the starter for preseason Game 1 on Saturday while also explaining that playing time will be meted out organically. Fangio also dished on the value and utility of crossing practice swords with an outside team. But the mindset is still one of relative unity.
“We’re just going to practice against them. Instead of having 90 teammates here, there’s 180 teammates,” Fangio explained. “We’re all teammates for those two practices. We’re just working against each other, and it’s a tremendous opportunity to see different schemes, both sides of the ball, you go against different players, you have to cover different players, pass rush against different linemen, the lineman pass-block different style guys.”
Fangio is clearly excited about seeing his guys butt heads with players dressed in a different uniform. What will provide the key to conducting two productive scrimmages will be maintaining discipline, despite a recent dust-up between All-Pro left Garett Bolles and Pro Bowl edge rusher Bradley Chubb.
Fangio also revealed that he has worked closely with Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer to ensure that everything is well planned out in advance.
“We’ve talked a few times and when we get up there tonight, all the coaches and support staff are going to get together just to make sure everything [is] sorted out,” Fangio detailed.
Having another veteran coach to communicate with is perfect for Fangio, and consequently, he is confident his own group won’t let him down. Avoiding unwelcomed extracurricular activities would appear to be a common goal of both coaches, and if things go as planned, Fangio believes it can benefit the two clubs.
“It’s tremendous work if everybody has the right attitude and the right mindset, and we do,” Fangio said. “I feel confident. I’m happy to do it with Mike Zimmer. I know he’ll run a good operation up there. You always have to be careful who you pick, the teams to work against, and I think Minnesota is a great team to work against.”
Fangio’s last comment implies he is well aware of the coaches and teams it’s best to avoid when organizing joint scrimmages so it comes as no surprise to see the Broncos facing the very NFC team GM George Paton spent most of his front-office career with over the next two days.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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