Teddy Bridgewater’s veteran leadership starting to show in Broncos OTAs

Teddy Bridgewater (5) and Drew Lock (3) stretch with teammates. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.
Teddy Bridgewater (5) and Drew Lock (3) stretch with teammates. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.

It’s way too early to call the winner of the Denver Broncos’ quarterback competition. And taking away too much from practices in early June could be an overreach in terms of guessing who will win.

But, the way teammates are talking about him, Teddy Bridgewater is doing well to be the veteran younger players come to as he looks to lead the offense not just now, but in the regular season as well.

Look, Monday was the first day of 11-on-11 practices for the Broncos and both quarterbacks have thrown interceptions, just as they have earlier in the 7-on-7 drills as well. However, it’s not just those plays which will determine the starter going into the 2021 season, but all the other conversations behind the scenes which will help one take the reigns of the Broncos.

“When I go to Teddy—this is my first year throwing with Teddy,” KJ Hamler explained last week. “It’s [me asking], ‘How do you like this route? Is it timing for you? How many steps are you taking, and do I need to speed it up?’ He just gives me his feedback on what he likes.”

Similarly, Bridgewater has impressed young tight end Noah Fant with his ball placement, while he and Jerry Jeudy connected for multiple big plays late last week, the beginning of chemistry between the two. 

“I feel like he’s a great quarterback,” Jeudy said of Bridgewater at the end of practice last Tuesday. “He knows how to anticipate. I feel like he’s good at anticipating where players are going to be. I feel like that’s a good thing he does.”

And that leadership won’t just be important for him and his receivers, but for the offensive line as well. Of course, as third-year guard and Colorado native Dalton Risner explained, the line has played with multiple quarterbacks — three-plus — each of the last two years, so they know what it’s like to block for more than one gun-slinger.

Risner isn’t tipping the team’s hand in terms of who they are leaning with — likely because it’s a true competition, not a sham one — and he likes what he’s seeing from both.

“There’s a ton of chemistry, that’s huge for us,” Risner explained on Monday. “Every quarterback is different from the sound of his cadence, to the cadences he goes on, his drop back, to where he sets up on every single play – everything. Everything is different between quarterbacks…I think that Teddy [Bridgewater] was a great addition to our team, he’s going to provide great leadership and competition at the QB spot.”

Quarterbacks have to lead, from OTAs, through training camp and then through the grueling test of an entire regular season. And Bridgewater is working on building bonds needed for that leadership to take place.

But, head coach Vic Fangio isn’t worrying too much about what he’s seeing in practice yet, since it’s still incredibly early.

“Overall, it was good,” Fangio said of the QB play on Monday. “I saw that we had a pick or two on defense. I’m not sure who threw it, but I’ll watch the tape. It was good to get 11-on-11. We did about 20 plays of team [work].”

The Broncos continue their OTAs today in preparation for the 2021 season, and expect the QB competition to rage on and into August in all likelihood as both guys continue to put their best foot forward.

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