ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio has said his aversion to showering compliments on players has been "exaggerated," but it's fairly clear he's keeping rookie quarterback Drew Lock grounded.
The NFL education of Lock includes a heavy dose of "meh" right now.
After the Broncos' preseason opener in the Hall of Fame Game, when Lock completed 7 of 11 passes for 34 yards, Fangio said: "I was hoping for more, but [I'm] not surprised. He's still got a lot of work to do. I thought his accuracy wasn't clean all the time along with his reads, but that's to be expected. We’ve got four more games and we’ve got to get him ready, more ready than he is right now."
After a fairly good performance in a training camp practice, Fangio said: "He's doing well. ... He did his best work in the 7-on-7, which isn't football, but it's progress. You need to see that progress in 11-on-11 and then ultimately in games, but he's getting better."
And when Fangio was asked if Lock’s ability to throw from many different arm angles was a benefit, he said: "A quarterback that can change his arm angles is a positive when it's needed. I don't think you want to do it when you don't have to do it. ... 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. ... His college offense really had no carryover 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. I don't think he's as far along being a ready NFL quarterback as he could have been. That's what I mean when he’s got to get ready. 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."
Following in the footsteps of Tim Tebow, Paxton Lynch and, even Kyle Sloter, Lock's potential has Broncos fans salivating. But the inevitable public outcry to play a coveted rookie prospect must be balanced with patience.
In the wake of Lynch’s flame-out -- the 2016 first-round pick was released last summer after failing to win the No. 2 job behind Case Keenum -- the Broncos tried to preach restraint after using the 42nd pick to select Lock in April's draft. At the time, general manager John Elway said, "we're hoping Drew is the future," while making it clear Joe Flacco would be the Broncos' quarterback now.
Flacco has said, repeatedly, he hopes to play "as long as possible." Lock will need patience and thick skin if things go the way the Broncos hope, and Flacco succeeds.
"I'm just trying to learn as much as I can, work, be a good teammate, all of those things you need to do as a [quarterback]," Lock said. "I’ve said this is a prime spot to be in, and it is. ... I have to concentrate on getting better, I don't really see what's been said or anything like that."
"He continues to get better, he's been overloaded," Elway said. "Any time you have a young guy like that, he's going to have his good days and his bad days, but obviously we're excited still about the talent he has and what he's shown, he's flashed a lot, but it's a big jump for him, especially with what we're doing offensively ... that is going to to take him some time."
Lock opened training camp at No. 3 on the quarterback depth chart behind Flacco and Kevin Hogan, and while the Broncos gave each of the three quarterbacks some snaps with the regulars at times, Lock didn’t take more snaps in practice than Hogan with the second-team offense until after the team’s second preseason game.
"It's about making strides and I think I can keep making strides," Lock said.
The gap between Flacco and the rest of the quarterbacks, however, remains enormous, especially when the offense is across from the first- or even second-team defense.
"It takes time to mature as a quarterback in the NFL," offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said. "There are no shortcuts."