With OTAs all but canceled, Denver Broncos' QB Drew Lock has been put in kind of a tight spot. As a second-year player, Lock needs all the reps he can get but where it becomes even more burdensome is the necessity of having to learn an entirely new playbook, which comes with new play-calls, new formations, and new nomenclature.
What's a young, would-be franchise quarterback to do? Organize throwing sessions with teammates away from the facility — that's what.
Lock has done just that but he hasn't limited these sessions to just throwing to skill-position players. We learned on Friday via The Athletic's Nicki Jhabvala that Lock and company are running the full playbook at Denver-area parks and now we have some video evidence of just that.
If you're running the full playbook, you need the blocking assignments down pat, which means you need the linemen themselves. Cue Dalton Risner and Ja'Wuan James, both of whom have been in attendance.
If you're going to run the full playbook, you'll also need to run the plays that call for OC Pat Shurmur's variants of the inside- and outside-zone. Cue Phillip Lindsay.
Based on the word that's reached Coach Shurmur and likely Head Coach Vic Fangio, these informal practices organized by Lock have gone extremely well and will likely serve to be very valuable when viewed in retrospect.
On Thursday, Coach Shurmur talked about how impressed he's been with Lock's work ethic and burning desire to master his craft all done through the prism of virtual meetings and long-distance phone calls.
"He learned a great deal," Shurmur said in regards to Lock's five-game sample size last year. "On the flip side of that, it’s been awesome to work with him. Unfortunately, it’s been remote. I think he’s embraced what we’re planning to do on offense. There’s a rumor that he’s working with the players by himself. That’s a rumor that I heard. Also, along with that rumor, I heard it’s going well.”
Odds are, the Broncos' players aren't going to step foot in the UC Health Training Center until training camp kicks off on July 28. With the nation being locked down for the better part of three months as state governments responded to the coronavirus pandemic, pro sports were effectively wiped out.
The NFL was bold enough to keep its free agency period and draft on-schedule, which was the only form of sports therapy the U.S. received from mid-March on. Those events were able to continue because they could be executed remotely through virtual means.
OTAs don't exactly work that way. Sure, NFL teams can hold virtual meetings for the whole squad and position-by-position, but let's face it; it's a far cry from the real thing of coaches having hands on players and players being able to compete and perform.
That's why these informal practice sessions are so valuable. Even if it only puts Lock and company slightly ahead of where they would have otherwise been when camp opens, it'll have been a success.
Lock's leadership on this front is yet another example of the intangible traits he brings to the table that have the Broncos' front-office brass and coaching staff so confident that their time wandering the QB desert is officially in the rear-view.