Drew Locke or Teddy Bridgewater? The Broncos began searching for the answer to that question Wednesday morning as the team’s quarterback competition officially began on the first day of training camp.
Locke, still trying to prove himself after throwing a league-high 15 interceptions last year, took the first snap. But from there, it was almost equal rep between him and newcomer Teddy Bridgewater.
The incumbent knows what is at stake for himself and the franchise as the Broncos, buoyed by what is expected to be a strong defense, desperately need a QB capable of breaking a five-year playoff drought.
“That’s what we’re out to do here – it’s 24/7 competition,” Locke said. “Whether it is the meeting room, how quickly we eat our food at the lunch table. I’m surprised (the time of our arrival at the facility) is still not out. I think if I were a fan, it would be fun. But when you’re within these walls… it’s about us getting better every day.
“Whenever I break this team, we break down on ‘win’, because we have to talk about it, live about it, live it (all the time). That’s what we want and that’s what this team deserves.”
Locke said his competition with Bridgewater is “motivational.”
This offseason, that clearly meant adding some bulk to his 6-foot-4 frame, as the third-year pro checked into camp at a toned 230 pounds, about 12 pounds heavier than his playing weight last year.
“For lack of a better period, I feel like I’m not going through puberty anymore,” Locke joked. “I’m getting some big guy strength and it feels good.”
In addition to the extra muscle, Locke said that reflecting on last year’s failures, when he went 4-9 as a starter, made him a better quarterback.
“I think I’m a smarter player now,” Locke said. “The chances I take are more calculated chances than when I was a rookie or in my second year. When I hit the ball, I believe it will be a safe call… The gunslinger mentality may still be there, but it has to be a calculated gunslinger rather than just a sprayer.”
Bridgewater, meanwhile, has a “survivor” mentality in his fourth NFL stop. Bridgewater, a Minnesota first-round pick in 2014, says that every day at his first training camp at the UCHealth training center, his goal is to “take an approach like it’s my first time learning, and as such, I never feel like It’s not happening that I even know much.”
The 28-year-old veteran, who started 4-11 at 15 for Carolina last year, remains confident in his ability to adapt to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s system over the next few weeks.
“You can throw me in the woods, and I’m going to come out with a fur coat and a headband made out of some leaves,” Bridgewater said. “It’s about surviving at this point (in my career), and every day I have a fire that burns.”
Coach Vic Fangio, who said on Monday that Locke and Bridgewater would probably each get a preseason start, rated that both quarterbacks “performed well” on the opening day of camp.