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The Denver Broncos are taking the first major step toward getting an evaluation on their rookie second-round quarterback by activating him off injured reserve to practice starting this week.

However, if head coach Vic Fangio is to be believed, the Broncos aren't activating the rookie QB as step one of any over-arching plan. No, apparently, they're just getting a look-see. 

In fact, according to Fangio, the Broncos don't have a "mapped out" plan for the very player this front office has talked about as being "the future" of the team. 

“No, it’s not mapped because it’s going to be determined by how he looks and what we think," Fangio said on Monday. 

Lock spent the first 10 weeks of the NFL season on IR after suffering a sprained thumb on his throwing hand in the Broncos third preseason game of the summer. Meanwhile, the Broncos rolled with veteran transplant Joe Flacco but it was a colossal flop, as he led the team out to a 2-6 start before suffering a season-ending neck injury in Week 8.

But this front office knew this season wasn't going to unfold the way they'd hoped and planned early on. The Broncos started off 0-4 after all.

You'd think the reality of their predicament with Flacco would have sparked some urgency to get Lock out onto the field as soon as humanly possible. Well, Week 7 was the first week by league rule the Broncos could have activated Lock for practice, but they instead dragged their feet, using the short week of preparation as the excuse. 

The Broncos continued to delay, pointing to the Week 10 bye as the reason for waiting until Week 11 to even "look" at activating Lock for practice, because the bye would count as a week of practice and they didn't want to waste the 21-day deadline the NFL allows to teams who are considering using one of two IR-return designations on a player. 

We heard talking points from GM John Elway publicly that Lock wasn't ready physically, only to be contradicted by the player himself the same day when Lock revealed he'd been cleared by team doctors to practice "a couple weeks" earlier. Elway also said he's reliant upon what the coaches are telling him regarding Lock's readiness from a mental standpoint; I.E. the playbook, etc. 

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Literally, the next day, offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said publicly that Lock has done "a great job" on the mental side of things. Mixed signals to say the least. 

In all fairness to Fangio, his "not mapped" comment might have been in regards to a specific timetable or date for Lock to start a game this season, and might not necessarily have been speaking to the overall "plan" for Lock. In other words, maybe the Broncos really haven't circled a debut date for Lock later this season. 

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However, if the team 11 weeks into Lock's rookie year doesn't have things "mapped out" for him down the stretch of a failed season in which the original starter is no longer even on the roster, the implication is — the Broncos really don't have an over-arching road map for the quarterback they traded up to draft at pick 42 in the second round. And they probably never did. 

And you know what? That's honestly how it's felt all year. So in that sense, it doesn't come as a surprise to hear Fangio admit that there is no "mapped out" plan for Lock. 

The Broncos have been consumed with their short-term focus on "winning now", which has caused them to neglect a true blueprint for the one player who actually has the chance to completely alter the destiny of the club long-term. Flacco was never going to be that guy. 

But there's still a chance Lock could be. However, if the Broncos believe there's even a sliver of hope that Lock can be the future of the franchise, they're certainly not planning for the contingency or even the possibility, it would seem. 

Fangio admitted in the same presser on Monday that the performance of Brandon Allen in the ensuing weeks will factor into the "equation also” on when/if Lock gets to play this year. The fact that the Broncos are allowing a journeyman QB with one career start under his belt to influence their decision or "map" for Lock — in a failed season — tells fans everything they need to know. 

For now, fans can at least celebrate the small victory that Lock will at least begin practicing this week, giving Broncos Country some hope that they will have something to look forward to later on in this failed season. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.