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Fangio Shares his Evaluation on Drew Lock's First Day Back at Broncos Practice

The Broncos are slowly working rookie QB Drew Lock back into the practice grind.
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After being away from the field for nearly three months, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock returned to practice on Tuesday. The second-round signal-caller has spent the last quarter of a calendar year on injured reserve, after he sprained his thumb in the Broncos' third preseason game. 

Despite being healthy enough to practice around the Week 7 point, the Broncos chose to keep Lock sidelined until Tuesday, as the team makes its preparations to travel to take on the Minnesota Vikings. 

So, with so much time off and away from the grid-iron, how did Lock look in his first practice back? Head coach Vic Fangio dropped the curtain and gave fans a very surface evaluation on the rookie's day. 

“He did okay," Fangio said on Wednesday. "He took some scout team snaps. He’s going to take some regular snaps today. He did fine.”

Let's talk about what 'scout team snaps' entail, for those who don't know. Each week, the Broncos' scout team, which includes bottom-of-the-depth-chart players and practice-squaders, run the offense of the next opponent on the schedule, in order to give Denver's first-team defense exposure to their alignments, looks, tendencies and play-calls. 

So, what can the Broncos deduce from watching Lock operate another team's system, in essence? The truth is, not much, which is why the rookie began taking those "regular" snaps on Wednesday. 

“Yeah, you can evaluate where he’s at physically, but yeah it’s not your offense," Fangio said." We’re going to be getting him some snaps with the offense as we go here.”

The general perception of how Lock has looked through two days of practice has been positive, thought the team is being very careful in how they talk about it publicly. Fangio used words like "okay" and "fine" to describe Lock's performance in practice, which is obviously not exactly a ringing endorsement, but neither is it any sort of critical indictment. 

On Monday, Fangio laid out what he needs to see from Lock in order to have the confidence to actually activate him to the 53-man roster and later, perhaps play him. 

“Good quarterback play and that he belongs," Fangio said. 

A quarterback, when he's 'ready', will make it undeniable. Go back to 2006 when Jake Plummer was the entrenched starter in Denver and Mike Shanahan had just spent a first-round draft pick on Jay Cutler. 

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Plummer opened the season as the starter and eventually, he began to falter. But Shanahan didn't pull the trigger on making that fateful QB change until Cutler forced the issue by separating himself on the practice field and making it undeniable for the coaches. 

That didn't make the decision any easier for Shanahan. But he couldn't deny that Cutler was ready to go. 

Considering that Lock hasn't even practiced, or thrown to real Bronco receivers since August, it's going to take him at least a little time to get back into a groove. But if he's the player the team believes he is, sooner than later, he'll separate from the likes of Brandon Allen and Brett Rypien and his performance on the practice field will make it undeniable for Coach Fangio, OC Rich Scangarello and GM John Elway that he needs to play. 

And just in case fans had their hopes up about even the possibility of Lock being activated to the 53-man roster this week in time to be the backup, Fangio threw a wet blanket on the notion. 

“Probably not.”

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.