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Drew Lock is “highly unlikely” to play for his first start in 2021 with Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater

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This Sunday in Las Vegas, Drew Lock finally gets his chance to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2021.

Lock will take on the Raiders with Teddy Bridgewater in concussion protocol after Bridgewater was carted off the field during Sunday’s 15-10 loss to the Bengals. Coach Vic Fangio said it was “highly unlikely” Bridgewater would play on Sunday.

Center Lloyd Cushenberry gave Lock a vote of confidence, saying the team believes in the quarterback, who has seen spot action in three games this season, in place of Bridgewater, who won the starting job at training camp.

“We know what (Lock) can do,” Cushenberry said. “He came in (Sunday) and made some big plays for us… We have to protect him and give him time to play with the playmakers around him. He’s played a lot of football and I know he’s ready for the moment.”

With the Broncos 7-7, Denver’s playoff odds are currently 5% per FiveThirtyEight. To even stand a chance of staying in contention, the Broncos need to win their last three games against the Raiders, the Chargers and the Chiefs.

To do this, Lock must avoid the game-changing mistakes he was prone to making during his young career.

After coming on for Bridgewater in the third quarter against the Bengals, Lock Tim threw Patrick a 25-yard touchdown pass that gave the Broncos a 10-9 lead. But Lock also had a critical fumble in the red zone in the fourth quarter, where Denver was nine yards from regaining the lead.

Fangio said Lock “probably should have given (the handoff)” to Javonte Williams on the read-option play, where Lock kept the ball and then got pulled off by Cincinnati’s Khalid Kareem.

“My No. 1 thing just cares about football,” Lock said. “I’ve put the ball on the floor twice (with fumbling on Sunday) and it’s way too much for me personally.”

Lock was 6 of 12 for 88 yards in relief from Bridgewater, who injured himself while struggling for a first down. In a scary moment at Empower Field, Bridgewater lay motionless on the turf after hitting the ground with the side of his head when he was hit by Bengal’s tackle BJ Hill. Bridgewater was placed on a back wall and taken to a local hospital, where he was held overnight for observation.

Bridgewater was released from the hospital Monday morning before being placed on the NFL’s concussion protocol. It’s the second time Bridgewater has been on the league’s concussion record this year; He was also knocked out of the Week 4 loss to Baltimore but returned to play in Pittsburgh seven days later.

“I just spoke to him and he’s home and resting comfortably,” said coach Vic Fangio late Monday morning. “He sounded a lot better this morning than (Sunday) night; Sunday night he just sounded very tired. (Monday) in the morning it sounded much better. I am relieved that he is doing well.”

Fangio believes Lock, who was 4-9 in 13 starts last year and 4-1 as a rookie in 2019, will benefit from a full week of taking all the first-team reps into practice. Lock is 22 of 40 through the air in 2021, with one touchdown, two interceptions and a 5.7 yards/pass average.

“The shot to Tim Patrick for the touchdown was a nice shot (on Sunday) and a few others just missed the mark a bit,” said Fangio. “But hopefully with a week of training he will be much better prepared.”

Lock said he understands the Broncos are “Teddy’s team.” But he vowed after Sunday’s loss that “if they need me, I’m here,” and chances are No. 3 will face a Raiders team that has beaten Denver three times in a row on Sunday.

The 2019 second-round draft pick also noted that he feels more than ready to step in as a starter this week, given the extra time he spent on game planning outside of the facility.

“I think you have to do twice as much (work) as the starter has to do at the end,” Lock explained. “After practice, I go over (our game script). I laid out a patch of sod in my basement, walked through it down there — I did that all summer, so it was there. I go through the Play Call Sheets 100 times. I score my games I want in case I can get into the game.

Lock’s last start came in the final game of the 2020 season when the Broncos lost 32-31 at home to the Raiders. Lock was 25 of 49 with 339 passing yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

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