ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — If only Drew Lock’s body was as hard as his head.
For the second straight season, the Denver Broncos’ young quarterback will miss significant time time after getting injured while scrambling in vain to avoid a sack.
The mobile QB from Missouri is vowing once again not to change his style.
Last year, Lock missed three months after spraining the thumb on his throwing hand in the preseason. Although he was slated to back up Joe Flacco as a rookie, he missed out on at least three starts once Flacco went on IR at midseason.
Despite paltry practice time, Lock won four of his five starts after being activated in December, entrenching himself as the starter coming into 2020.
Yet on the Broncos’ second drive of their second game, Lock was scrambling to his right after narrowly avoiding being sacked by outside linebacker T.J. Watt when fellow linebacker Bud Dupree crashed into him, driving Lock’s right (throwing) shoulder into the Heinz Field turf.
Coach Vic Fangio said Monday that Lock could be out until midseason.
“I like to get out and run and I like making plays when they’re there,” Lock said after Denver's 26-21 loss, his right arm in a sling. “Both times it was close and maybe I could have gotten out of it and not gotten hurt.
“I won’t sit here and tell you if I’m close to getting out of it and making the big play for us, that I’m going to lay down and take the sack.”
That’s just not in his DNA, he said after the Broncos started 0-2 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
“I’m going to stay aggressive and try to not have these awkward things happen and fall weird,” Lock said. “I’m going to stick true to my guns and what got me here, what helped us win a couple games last year and what’s going to help us win games this year.”
His coach sounded as though he wasn’t exactly on board with Lock’s approach.
“Well, he could have stepped up and executed, stayed with the play a little bit longer,” Fangio said. “And then once you start scrambling and anytime you hit the ground, you’re always in danger of getting hurt, particularly at quarterback with the shoulders or anything to your throwing arm can happen.”
The Broncos now turn to Jeff Driskel, who threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns after Lock went out but also threw an interception and was sacked six times.
The interior of the defensive line continues to shine. Jurrell Casey had his third pass breakup of the season and Shelby Harris forced a fumble that Kareem Jackson recovered.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The offensive play calling no matter the quarterback. Needing two yards in two plays from the Pittsburgh 15 with less than two minutes remaining, Pat Shurmur didn’t call for a handoff to Denver's $16 million man, RB Melvin Gordon. Instead, Shurmur dialed up a pair of passes even though his QBs had been hit 17 times and sacked six.
Safety Justin Simmons, who’s playing on the franchise tag after the Broncos’ contract talks went nowhere over the summer, picked off a pass, broke up two more and recorded a team-high eight tackles, including one for loss and seven solo.
Shurmur. Aside from curious calls in the red zone again, TE Noah Fant for the second straight week was invincible for one half and invisible in the other.
The Broncos are competing with the 49ers for most consequential injuries in 2020. The Broncos’ list includes Lock, Courtland Sutton, Von Miller, A.J. Bouye and Phillip Lindsay. San Francisco’s list of casualties features Richard Sherman, Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas.
Six scores in 24 possessions for Denver, which has only been outscored 42-35.
With Tom Brady on deck, the Broncos are going to have to find a way to call better plays for a lesser cast and hope their fortunes on both the field and the injury front turn around.
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