DENVER | Drew Lock’s preseason is over, though the good news is that he won’t require surgery on his sprained right thumb.
The Denver Broncos rookie quarterback will sit out the final two exhibition games, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t revealed the severity of the injury Lock suffered in Monday night’s preseason loss to San Francisco.
The Broncos will now likely carry three quarterbacks on the final roster heading into their season opener at Oakland on Sept. 9. Lock is competing with Kevin Hogan to back up Joe Flacco.
A second-round pick out of Missouri, Lock got hurt early in the third quarter against the 49ers when he was tripped up while trying to leave the pocket and landed awkwardly on his thumb as he attempted to pitch the ball to a receiver.
After the game — and wearing a protective brace — Lock kept his fingers crossed his thumb wouldn’t sideline him for long.
“I’ve jammed my thumb playing basketball a thousand times and it kind of felt like a jammed thumb,” Lock said.
Turns out, the sprain was worse than thought.
Heading into training camp, the conventional thought was Hogan would be the No. 2 QB — at least until Lock got up to speed. But Lock has picked things up to the point where he was making it a tough call for coach Vic Fangio.
“He’s improving,” Fangio said Monday. “That’s what we’re looking for right now.”
Ever so gradually, Lock has absorbed the nuances of offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello’s system. In the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 1, Lock’s head was spinning. In the second preseason contest a week later in Seattle, he felt a little more comfortable. On Monday, he got a chance to step in after Flacco’s night was finished and work with some of the first-string offense.
Lock guided the team down the field for a pair of second-quarter field goals before spraining his thumb.
“There are a lot of positives I can take,” said Lock, who was 7 of 12 for 40 yards and also scrambled for 11 yards. “I felt like I made a stride again this game, feeling more confident in myself, knowing what’s going on around me, where my hot (reads) are. I made it a point this week that if we did get a blitz, I knew where I was going with the ball. I feel like I did a better job.”
As for whether he’s done enough to earn the No. 2 spot, Lock took a diplomatic approach.
“I’m confident in myself that I can be a backup quarterback right now,” Lock said. “Hopefully I can get back and keep proving my statement for being the quarterback, the backup quarterback. I’m confident I can do that. But it’s not up to me right now.”
Hogan, too, feels like he’s making a strong statement. The Stanford product had a 24-yard TD scramble against the 49ers.
“I felt good out there,” said Hogan, a fifth-round pick by Kansas City in 2016 who’s been waived by the Chiefs, picked up by Cleveland, traded to Washington and eventually claimed off waivers by Denver last September. “I felt like I was seeing everything. There are always some plays you’d like back. I made some good throws and definitely stuff to improve upon.”
Hogan stressed it’s a friendly atmosphere inside the quarterback room with him, Flacco, Lock and college free agent Brett Rypien.
“We’re all brothers. We’re all pushing each other to get better,” Hogan said. “We feel like we have a lot of talent in the room and any of us can go out and make plays. We’re all rooting for each other and pulling for each other when we’re out there.”
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