Broncos QB Drew Lock Can Begin Practicing With Team Again In Five Days
The Denver Broncos, like every NFL team, have the prerogative to activate two players per year off of injured reserve. The injury bug has been tough for the Broncos to fend off in 2019, which means the team will have a few options when the time comes.
The most pressing player poised to return off IR is rookie quarterback Drew Lock. Lock suffered a severe thumb sprain in Denver's third preseason game and was subsequently placed on IR on the doorstep of Week 1.
With the team getting out to an 0-4 start, the one thing fans had to look forward to was the (hopefully) eventual play of Lock this year. But that's assuming the Broncos activate him.
We learned last week (video above) that Lock is not only throwing again but that he no longer feels pain when he throws or grips the football. Will the Broncos call him up from IR? Here's what head coach Vic Fangio said on Wednesday.
“Right now, we’re locked into the restrictions of IR," Fangio said. "I think he can start practicing after next week, I believe. Is that right? I know you guys keep better track of that than I do. Then we’ll see from there.”
Actually, per NFL rule, Lock can begin practicing again in Week 7. Staying pain-free and handling practice well next week will be a big deciding factor. If all goes well and Lock suffers no setbacks in throwing, the Broncos can designate him to return and he can officially be on the roster again come Week 9.
Last week's win over the Chargers was encouraging and like manna from heaven for a fanbase suffering from what had been the longest active losing streak in the NFL. The odds are extremely low, however, that the Broncos will be able to dig themselves out of this 1-4 hole and become playoff-relevant.
At some point, the Broncos will need to throw up the white towel with Joe Flacco and play the rookie whom GM John Elway strongly considered taking at pick 10 in the draft and whom the team eventually traded up in the second round to get.
Put it this way, if the Broncos indeed go 5-11 or 6-10 and don't get Drew Lock on the field for at least a quarter of this season, 2019 will end up being a colossal waste and abject failure. But, if the Broncos go sub-.500 and Lock plays for the final four games, whether he succeeds or fails, at least the team's future at QB will no longer be ransomed.
With a four-game sample size, at worst, the Broncos will know whether they'll need to be in the QB market in the 2020 draft. Who knows? Maybe Lock steps in and hits it out of the park and the Broncos finally go into an offseason with the confidence that they've found their future franchise QB to begin building around in 2020.
Without activating Lock off IR, it's all moot. The kid wants to be activated, though he's smart enough to not to wage PR war through the media and is genuflecting to the front office before making any public declarations.