Top NFL Rookie Quarterback Could Miss First Half of Season Due to Injury [Report]

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This wouldn’t be a good start to Drew Lock’s NFL career at all.

After suffering a severely sprained right thumb injury in the Denver Broncos‘ 24-15 preseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, not only will Lock miss the remainder of his rookie preseason — he could miss the first half of the 2019 season.

According to Jeff Legwold of ESPN, the injury is so severe that Lock could be placed on injured reserve with a designation to return, according to Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. That would means Lock would be unable to return until halfway through the season — after at least eight weeks on the inactive list.

In a double whammy, he would occupy one of the Broncos’ active spots on their 53-man roster. Which would likely prevent the Broncos from even thinking about adding another quarterback during Lock’s absence.

“Yeah, it could be if we don’t think he can play for a while,” Fangio said of the possibility that Lock will go on IR, per ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. “The bad thing about it is because of the injury he can’t do much.”

Fangio didn’t cover up the severity of the injury — he doesn’t know how long the second-round draft pick will be sidelined for.

“Obviously because it’s his throwing hand and a thumb, that’s a pretty serious injury for a quarterback,” Fangio said. “It will be some time before we know exactly where he’s at and how much time he would miss.”

Drew Lock Had Cemented Hold on Backup Job

Lock’s absence comes at a bad time — especially considering he had shown potential in the Broncos’ first three preseason games as he battled veteran Kevin Hogan for the backup quarterback job behind starter Joe Flacco.

The 22-year-old had expressed confidence that he felt like he had earned the backup job prior to his injury, via Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post.

“(I’m) trusting the staff to get back out there as soon as possible, whenever that is,” Lock said. “I was confident in the way I started playing. I felt like I was making strides every single week and starting to maybe earn that (No. 2) role.”

In Lock’s latest in-game action versus the Niners, the University of Missouri product completed 7-of-12 passes for 40 yards. He also led the Broncos to two scoring drives totaling 98 yards against Niners starters and primary backups before the end of the first half.

By comparison, Hogan went 5-of-15 for 40 yards on 2.7 yards per pass attempt — while being sacked five times against many defensive players who won’t even make the Niners’ 53-man roster.

The 26-year-old Hogan led the Broncos to just one scoring drive in eight total drives, with five of those drives ending without a first down. Four of them resulted in negative yardage.

Backup QB Job is Kevin Hogan’s to Lose

With Lock sidelined and Flacco having received the reps he’s needed during the preseason — the Broncos have played one more preseason game than most teams due to the Hall-of-Fame Game against the Atlanta Falcons — Hogan will start against the Los Angeles Rams this weekend while Brett Rypien will back him up.

Hogan stated during media availability that he just wants to show he can run the offense, via Halloran of The Denver Post.

“I want to show I can run the offense and go be efficient, convert on third down, stay on the field — I felt like we got off the field a little too much (on Monday) and then get in the red zone and put stuff in the end zone for touchdowns instead of field goals,” he said of his goal Saturday. “I feel like I’m going through my reads, getting it to the open guy and making the plays that are there.”

With Lock out indefinitely, the backup job is now in Hogan’s hands.

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Follow D.J. Siddiqi on Twitter @DJSiddiqi