Sports

Fangio: Lock to start Sat., but QB battle even

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With the quarterback competition still “even-steven,” Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Tuesday that Drew Lock will start Saturday’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

Teddy Bridgewater will start the second preseason game, an Aug. 21 road contest against the Seattle Seahawks. Fangio has consistently said through the opening two weeks of training camp that he would likely give each quarterback one preseason start.

After Tuesday’s abbreviated practice before heading to Minneapolis, Fangio said Lock will start against the Vikings for “the same reason that we gave him the first team snap of the first practice.” When the Broncos opened training camp July 27, Fangio said Lock would take the first snap because “he was here. He’s been here. He’s got more seniority with the Broncos, I guess. It’s really no big deal.”

The Broncos close out the preseason Aug. 28 against the Los Angeles Rams. Fangio has said no decision has been made on who would start that game in either scenario — if he has made a decision on the regular-season starter or if the competition is ongoing.

Fangio said after Tuesday’s practice that he didn’t know exactly how many snaps each quarterback would play against the Vikings.

“You have a hope, but what happens in these preseason games, sometimes you go out there and get a couple three-and-outs and the other team’s driving it on you, so you can’t go by quarters and series and stuff,” Fangio said. “You’ve got to try to go by plays as best you can, because it can get skewed one way or the other … so we’ll keep a running tab during the game.”

As he has in practice, when Lock and Bridgewater have split snaps with the starters equally, Fangio said he would make sure each quarterback played with starters or, at minimum, players who are “in the hunt” to start to make the evaluations more even.

“We’ve got four tackles that are competing, so they’ll be in there with two of those four,” Fangio said. “Same thing with the guards. It may not be what you view as the exact No. 1s, but we’re confident with the guys we’ll have in there.”

In addition to Saturday’s game, Denver and Minnesota will hold joint practices Wednesday and Thursday at the Vikings’ facility in suburban Minneapolis.

Lock and Bridgewater have each had moments in camp when they looked to be nudging ahead of the other, but both have also committed an ill-timed turnover in an 11-on-11 period or had a balky practice period to even it up again. In general, Lock has had more big plays in the workouts, while the offense has played with fewer penalties and a better tempo with Bridgewater in the lineup.

Fangio maintained that he doesn’t view the lack of a clear starter as an issue that would carry over into the regular season.

“I have confidence in both those guys,” Fangio said. “I really do. … There is no grading scale. Ultimately we have to go by what we see. We’re keeping track of things, statistically — some more detailed stats than what you guys will do. They’ll be there for the information.”

The Broncos threw the quarterback job open for competition for the third time in the past six training camps because Lock tied for the league lead in interceptions last season and finished last among starters in completion percentage. The Broncos were also last in the NFL in giveaways and had the league’s worst turnover margin.

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