The Denver Broncos kicked off their 2021 football activities on Monday with Phase 1 of the offseason training program. This phase, however, is purely 'voluntary'; meaning, players can skip it if they want with no negative ramifications financially, or by way of any team/league discipline.
Last week, led by team NFLPA rep Brandon McManus, a collective of Broncos players released a statement revealing their intention to skip this week's OTA session, citing a "risky" working environment that poses a "threat" due to the ongoing pandemic, which has been seriously mitigated of late with an effective vaccine push across the country.
Some players, though, have skin in the game relative to 'voluntary' OTAs. Von Miller, for example, stands to gain a $500,000 workout bonus for showing up, as do other players — though none at a sum as great as the eight-time Pro Bowler's.
With the Broncos opening their doors at UCHealth Training Center on Monday morning, there to lead the way, with 20 or so other players, was incumbent quarterback Drew Lock. Lock is picking up his $75,000 workout bonus and in so doing, leading his teammates as the Broncos begin the marathon to turning around last year's 5-11 finish.
Lock revealed to 9NEWS' Mike Klis over the weekend that instead of communicating with the team, media, and fans through Zoom or social media, he'll do so the old-fashioned way: letting his actions do the talking.
Lock acknowledged to Klis that he's been "radio silent this offseason” but remained adamant he'd, “Let my actions do the talking.”
So, what do Lock's actions thus far in 2021 communicate on a broader scale? His own teammates have said that he's been the first in and last out of the building basically since last season ended and that his energy and focus are "100% different" than even in 2020.
New GM George Paton — who holds the No. 9 overall pick in the NFL draft and is weighing his options on whether to use it on a quarterback — has seen Lock in the building daily, which, no doubt, has helped solidify a good first impression. We also learned last week that Lock has been working with Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning to study and break down film this offseason.
What it says is that Lock A.) was not satisfied with his 2020 body of work, B.) hears the QB rumors implicating the Broncos, and C.) is motivated to put in the blood, sweat, and tears now to reap the rewards when the fall rolls around.
The Broncos have lacked leadership, especially on the offensive side of the ball for years, so it came as a breath of fresh air to learn over the weekend that starting guard tandem Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow would be breaking with their OTA-hold-out teammates to show up to work.
But it would have been incomplete without the starting quarterback showing up too. Ask yourself this; would Manning — the NFL's only five-time MVP — skip a 'voluntary' OTA session or pass on any opportunity to work with his coaches and teammates to get better?
The answer should assure fans that Lock is not tone-deaf to all the negativity, rumor, and speculation that has been the hallmark of the 2021 offseason. Heading into Year 3, the young signal-caller is going to take every opportunity himself to move the needle and in so doing, lead his young teammates.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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