ENGLEWOOD | If Joe Flacco stays healthy, it won’t matter that rookie quarterbacks Drew Lock and Brett Rypien are greenhorns and incumbent backup Kevin Hogan has gotten off to a rocky start in Denver this summer.
Hogan, who has started just one game in the NFL, back in 2017 for the Cleveland Browns, threaded an 11-yard TD pass to Noah Fant past two defenders Sunday that was easily his best throw of training camp.
Before that, the fourth-year pro had been misfiring with no pressure, repeatedly overshooting open receivers with either a clean pocket or in 7-on-7 periods where there was no pass rush at all.
That was an alarming development for a team that lacks experience behind Flacco, the 34-year-old QB the Broncos acquired from Baltimore in the offseason.
“I saw some good throws out there today” from Hogan, coach Vic Fangio said. “I’ll see more when I go in and watch the tape. But I think Kevin has made a lot of improvements, and I’m talking from the spring to now … and hopefully he’ll keep doing that.”
Competing with Hogan for the No. 2 job is Lock, a second-round draft pick who’s taking a crash course in the pro passing game after lining up under center at Missouri only a handful of times.
Rypien, who went undrafted after winning 37 games at Boise State, is hoping to stick around either as the third quarterback or on the practice squad.
“I like Brett,” Fangio said. “Brett, I think, maybe has got a future.”
Lock might very well be the future in Denver, but he’s got a long way to go. He relied on his athleticism in college and was known for side-arming the ball, something Fangio only wants to see when his quarterback has a defender in his face.
“It’s good that he can do that, but he needs to use it when he needs to, not when he doesn’t need to,” Fangio said. “His college offense really had no carry-over to pro offenses and he was under duress a lot of times at his college, so a lot of his plays he was running around.”
Therefore, Fangio said, “I don’t think he’s far along being a ready NFL quarterback as he could have been. … He’s not a quarterback yet. He’s a hard-throwing pitcher that doesn’t know how to pitch yet, so the faster he gets that, the better off he’ll be — and we’ll be.”
Fangio is hoping Lock proves a quick study.
“Every player is different, especially at that position,” Fangio said. “It could happen fast, like we’ve seen some rookies do. It could be a process to where it could be a couple of years. So, fast or a couple of years, somewhere in between. We’ll see. I tell him that is on him. He’s got to do it.”
For now, the Broncos are counting on Flacco, who’s hoping to follow in Peyton Manning’s footsteps and have a solid second chapter in Denver.
General manager John Elway said he finally feels good about his QB room after trading a fourth-round pick to the Ravens for Flacco and selecting Lock in the second round of the NFL draft.
“We just felt that with Joe coming in, getting him in a trade, and where he is in his career, we feel like he’s in his prime. At least we hope he is,” Elway said. “To have a young guy like Drew learn under him and be able to kind of solidify that position for a while, obviously we’ve been looking for one since Peyton retired.”
Elway cycled through Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum following Manning’s retirement in 2016.
“That’s always a difficult position to fill,” Elway said. “But we finally feel pretty good about that position and where we are.”
Notes: TE Jake Butt took a scheduled day off, TE Troy Fumagalli is day-to-day with a sore hip and rookie LB Justin Hollins sat out Sunday with a sore hamstring. … The Broncos hosted Alzheimer’s Awareness D ay on Sunday, two months after team owner Pat Bowlen died at 75 following a long battle with the disease. Daughter Anabelle noted the sea of purple in the crowd replacing the usual orange. “This day is hard,” she said. “But we are showing that we are strong and this is a way to raise money so things like this won’t happen.”