DENVER -- Drew Lock has always been confident. He played AAU basketball as a kid, learning to talk trash and hold his ground. He pitched in youth baseball, enjoying life in the center of the diamond.
When Lock arrived in the NFL, he believed in his talent. Humility followed. He hurt his thumb, spent 10 weeks sidelined, an experience that shaped his performance during his successful five-game cameo. The Broncos pushed their chips to the center of the table with Lock this offseason, surrounding him with a battery of talent, including running back Melvin Gordon, and drafted receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. Lock told me he's ready to reward the team's faith in him.
"The moves say that they saw something positive in the way I played those last games, potentially being a guy who can stay here a long time and help the Broncos win as many games as possible. It means a lot to me," Lock said Tuesday. "It puts a little extra confidence on my back. At the same time, those expectations do rise when you have so many weapons around you. I like to say I hold myself to high expectations. I like to put pressure on myself in general. That's always going to be more than any pressure from the media or my family."
In his second season, Lock is learning his second offense. He believes traction can be established through Zoom meetings. So what is going to be different about Pat Shurmur's attack?
"There's definitely more possibilities for us to press the ball downfield, which I definitely think plays into my strengths and the receivers we have on this team," said Lock, who finished last season with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. "We have guys who can fly down the field. It gives me the option of changing a curl route to a go route if we get man (coverage). I think we will press the ball downfield more than we did last year."
Coach Vic Fangio wants more creativity and deep strikes. The Broncos ranked 27th in completions of 20-plus yards a year ago. Shurmur’s New York Giants had 10 touchdowns passes that traveled 20-plus yards in the air, compared to three for Denver. That Lock has earned the trust of his teammates on both sides of the ball is a good place to start when talking about a return to the playoffs.
"He went 4-1 in his first 5 starts. I mean … wouldn’t you guys say he handled himself well?" said safety Kareem Jackson on Tuesday.
In this unprecedented offseason, Lock has stayed in shape by working out with his personal trainer in Lee's Summit, Mo., adding explosiveness, while throwing consistently where permitted. He hopes to gather his Broncos receivers for a camp, something Peyton Manning did regularly, but that remains on hold until it's safe.
Lock is doing everything to be ready when the season resumes. However, will he be comfortable returning to the field as the nation continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic?
"I will leave that to the professionals, the doctors. I am no expert on the coronavirus," Lock said. "I will let them decide that. Whenever they decide it's OK for us to play, I will be ready to play."