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Here's what we saw at the Denver Broncos' first Phase 3 OTA

Andrew Mason Avatar
May 25, 2021

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Drew Lock got the first snap Monday. But with the Broncos only working in seven-on-seven and individual periods, their first session of Phase 3 of OTAs was not going to be a day that saw Lock or newcomer Teddy Bridgewater take any discernible lead in the putative quarterback competition.

“Until we get to at least practicing 11-on-11, you need to withhold much judgment,” Fangio said. “Eleven-on-11, and ultimately, the preseason games will be the true tell.”

Usually, a team would begin Phase 3 of organized team activities by getting some 11-on-11 (“team”) repetitions. Those were absent Monday, replaced by seven-on-seven — a.k.a. “skelly” – periods.

“I took everything into account when I made the schedule. It had many editions to it,” Fangio said. “I thought we came up with a very good schedule. I think our schedule today was very, very good.

“We essentially had two ‘skelly’ periods and an individual period. Then, we let some guys leave the practice field to make it to the weight-room work. I think the schedule did help somewhat. We’re not doing any team work for the first six OTAs.”

This will leave the Broncos with seven days in June — June 7, 8, 10, 11, 15, 16 and 17 — that could include team-period repetitions. Not as many as most years, but still seven more than they had in 2020, since COVID-19 canceled in-person offseason work altogether.

Both quarterbacks had some flashes. Bridgewater did well at going through his progressions, reaching the third read to find late-opening targets downfield. He was successfully able to stretch the defense with some deep connections.

Lock did well at checking down and taking what was there, and he displayed some good placement on passes near the sideline, including one where he squeezed it to Noah Fant, hitting the tight end at the outside shoulder where only he could get to it.

Both quarterbacks looked composed during the seven-on-seven period, guiding running backs and in-motion receivers into position before the snap. In that regard, Bridgewater looked like he’d been around the Broncos for a year, rather than just a few days.

“I’m sure there’s some rust and some uneasiness about exactly what we’re doing, but I’m sure there is a lot of carryover to what he’s done at other places,” Fangio said of Bridgewater. “I thought he had a good first day.”


  • Players who did not practice Monday included LG Dalton Risner (COVID-19), CB Duke Dawson Jr. (still recovering from December 2020 knee injury), DE Shelby Harris (recent skin operation, as he noted on his podcast), NT Mike Purcell (recovery from October 2020 foot injury), center Patrick Morris (illness), LB Jonathon Cooper (recovery from recent heart procedure) and LB Baron Browning (knee).
  • Voluntary absences included RB Melvin Gordon III and CB Kyle Fuller. Gordon announced over the weekend that he would not take part in OTAs, opting to train on his own in California. Fangio said he “really didn’t know why” Fuller was not on hand Monday.
  • WR Tim Patrick was flawless during games last season, hauling in each of the 51 on-target passes thrown his way. But he’s not perfect, and had a rare drop of a pass thrown by Lock during one of the seven-on-seven periods.
  • The news that WR Jerry Jeudy dropped a Bridgewater pass during a seven-on-seven period might register as alarming in some circles. But Jeudy caught every other on-target pass thrown his way, and consistently got separation throughout the day.
  • Bridgewater also deserves a tip of the cap for going back to Jeudy on the next snap, similar to how Lock kept firing to Jeudy last December in Los Angeles when the then-rookie had a spate of drops.
  • During the final seven-on-seven period, Bridgewater nearly hit second-year WR Tyrie Cleveland deep down the right sideline for a touchdown, but CB Pat Surtain II and safety P.J. Locke arrived — with contact coming before the ball arrived, leading to what likely would have been a pass-interference penalty in game conditions.
  • Alert defense from LB Alexander Johnson forced an incompletion on a short Lock attempt to tight end Austin Fort during the second seven-on-seven period.
  • Fort was a frequent target, as he saw plenty of work while Albert Okwuegbunam continues to complete his rehabilitation from a knee injury.
  • Speaking of Okwuegbunam, the news on him was encouraging. “[Okwuegbunam is] … a month to 5-6 weeks behind Courtland [Sutton] as to when it happened,” Fangio said, comparing the rehab work of the two pass-catchers. “He’s not quite as far along as Courtland is, but he’s doing great.”
  • Ring of Fame WR Rod Smith was on hand for the practice. He addressed the team following the session.


The Broncos signed rookie punter Max Duffy on Monday. The 28-year-old immediately went to work, wearing jersey number 15 and getting plenty of repetitions to begin their evaluation of him.

During the first special-teams period, Duffy handled all the punting chores, kicking to returners Diontae Spencer, K.J. Hamler and Bryce Callahan. All but three of his 17 punts had at least 4.3 seconds of hang time. Most were placed outside the numbers, a skill he honed during his three seasons at Kentucky.

One of his most impressive punts came toward the end of that period, when Jacob Bobenmoyer had a high snap that Duffy cleanly fielded. He quickly blasted a 60-yarder with 4.9. seconds of hang time.

Duffy’s progress will be worth watching — especially given the cap savings he could provide if he beats out Sam Martin for the job. Duffy has a rookie-minimum salary-cap figure of $660,000, while Martin’s cap figure for 2021 is $2,783,333.



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