Drew Lock Has Begun Throwing Again, Will Practice on Wednesday Ahead of Week 5
On Tuesday, when Drew Lock did not participate during the Denver Broncos' practice open to media, the writing on the wall seemed evident. Knowing head coach Vic Fangio's penchant for erring on the side of caution when it comes to players coming back from injury — much of which has to do with whether said player is able to practice in full that week — it didn't feel like Lock was tracking for a return to the starting lineup.
However, as I said on Tuesday, although Lock didn't practice, I'd be stunned if he hadn't begun throwing with that previously injured shoulder, even if it wasn't during team practice. How Lock felt while beginning to throw again would dictate his participation in team practice, and set the stage for whether he'd be on track to play in Week 5.
Wednesday morning opened with breaking news that New England star cornerback Stephon Gilmore had tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Denver's Week 5 bout with the Patriots. That news was punctuated by KUSA's Mike Klis dropping the curtain on Lock's activity this week.
"In non-COVID news, Drew Lock has been progressing well in his shoulder rehab. He has been throwing a football the past two days. Lock doing all he can to get back on field for beat-up Broncos," Klis tweeted Wednesday morning.
That encouraging tidbit was reinforced later on Wednesday when Coach Fangio revealed that Lock will practice with the team later. The Broncos typically have their coach and player availability first with practice following later in the day.
"Drew's going to practice today on a limited basis. We'll see how he does and see if we can build it from there—how he does early in practice. Based on all that and how he does the next few days, we'll decide."
So, Lock is going to practice this week, albeit on a limited basis. The hope is that he will continue to progress and be on pace to play on Sunday.
However, in the meantime, the Broncos will still prepare with backup QB Brett Rypien penciled in as the starter. Rypien showed some competency at the quarterback position last week, despite three interceptions, managing the game and the offense well from under center.
For Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick, he's between a rock and a hard place and not just because of the COVID outbreak in his locker room. Belichick will have to prepare for two different quarterbacks this week — Rypien and Lock.
The Broncos will slow-roll the process, waiting until the 11th hour to make a public determination on whether Lock will play. Even if he has a great week of practice without any setbacks to his throwing shoulder, the Broncos will list him as questionable for Week 5.
In fact, Coach Fangio would be remiss if he didn't list Lock as a game-time decision, forcing Belichick's preparation contingencies down to the wire. How much of an advantage that will give Denver is anyone's guess, though, as Belichick is savvy as it gets in the NFL.
Although I have my misgivings that Lock will play this week, we have to remember that the Broncos opted not to place him on injured reserve following Week 2 for a reason. Going on IR mandates that the injured player miss at least three weeks before he can be activated.
This game vs. the Patriots would represent the third game. The Broncos didn't place Lock on IR for the obvious reason that the team hoped he could return for the third game if everything went well with his recovery.
How well things go for Lock remains to be seen. But the takeaway is this: in light of Wednesday's revelations, Lock is very much in play for Week 5 at New England.