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Lock or Bridgewater? Turnovers Tell the Difference in Broncos This Season



PITTSBURGH — The Denver Broncos got several key players back in practice on Thursday as the team continued its preparations to face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday, including starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater, who was placed in the NFL concussion protocol after leaving the Broncos’ Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, was limited in practice on Thursday. He had missed Wednesday’s practice session altogether.

If Bridgewater continues on his upward trajectory, he could re-join the starting lineup in Pittsburgh on Sunday, though concussions are notoriously difficult to project the timeframe for players to return.

If Bridgewater does not play, third-year quarterback Drew Lock will likely lead the Broncos in to Heinz Field. Lock started for Denver in Pittsburgh in 2020, but did not finish the game, leaving with an injury in what became a Steelers win.

Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said on Thursday that he sees a Denver offense that is more poised and less prone to turning the ball over under the more-established Bridgewater this season.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 19: Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) runs with the ball during the game between the Denver Broncos and the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 19, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)

“Bridgewater is an experienced guy,” Fitzpatrick said. “He throws the ball well. He knows where to put it. He’s smart with it.”

The Steelers have just three turnovers this season, a number that defensive coordinator Keith Butler said on Thursday absolutely needs to increase going forward. But that could be difficult if Bridgewater is the player that suits up in orange and blue on Sunday afternoon.

One came from Lock after he replaced Bridgewater against the ravens on Sunday. The other two have been fumbles, with the veteran Bridgewater possessing a 5:0 touchdown to interception ratio. Lock had four interceptions and lost a fumble in his first four game.

The Broncos got a number of other players back from Andre on Thursday as well. Running back Melvin Gordon III went from out to a limited participation with his lower leg injury. Gordon is expected to play on Sunday. 

Cornerback Patrick Surtain II and kick returner Diontae Spencer both returned to action after missing Wednesday with chest injuries. Their status for the upcoming game is still unknown.

Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam is trending in the opposite direction with his hamstring injury. He missed practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday.