The Miami Dolphins defense is preparing for a mystery at quarterback for this Sunday’s road game against the Denver Broncos.
Drew Lock, who threw a career-high four interceptions in last Sunday’s 37-12 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, left the game with rib injury that has him listed as day-to-day, and could force him to sit out the game.
His practice participation was limited on Wednesday, and backup Brett Rypien took the first-team reps in his absence for the Broncos (3-6).
“He’s made good progress since Monday morning until Wednesday morning,” coach Vic Fangio told the Denver media. “We’ll see how much progress he continues to make throughout the week, and see how it goes.”
Fangio said he’ll determine Lock’s status based on how much he practices this week, and how he looks in those throwing sessions.
But there has to be some concern about Lock’s rib injury getting worse, even though he’d likely play with a padding over his chest area.
The uncertainly about who starts at quarterback for the Broncos has Miami’s defense and coaches working to prepare for three possible quarterbacks, which includes Jeff Driskel.
Rypien, a former Boise State standout the Broncos signed as an undrafted rookie in 2019, has played in three games this season, replacing Lock when he was sidelined by a shoulder injury. He has completed 67.5 percent of his 40 attempts, throwing for 295 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He has a 66.1 passer rating, but did lead Denver to a a 37-28 win over the New York Jets.
Driskel has started nine of the 15 games he’s played in the past three seasons. He’s completed 58 percent of his passes during his career, and has thrown for 2,120 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The Broncos also have former Jaguars starter Blake Bortles on their practice squad, but would need to elevate the former University of Central Florida standout up to the active roster for him to play in a game.
“You watch them all. They’ve both played, so there’s plenty of film on both quarterbacks, really all three,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Wednesday when asked about the team’s preparation for Sunday’s opponent. “We evaluate those guys, their strengths and weaknesses in conjunction with our game plan, and see if the game is called differently with those guys in there. If it is, then we’ll have to adjust, but I think they do a good job. They’ve done a good job working with the strengths of each different quarterback, so it’s going to be a tough test either way.”
With or without Lock, the Broncos offense has been struggling. Lock, who owns a 6-6 record in his 12 starts the past two years, is completing just 55 percent of his passes this season, throwing for 1,497 yards with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’s been sacked 11 times, and owns a 66.7 passer rating.
“We’re committed to Drew and the more he can play, the better he’ll be,” Fangio said. “He’s got to fight through this like most young quarterbacks do at some point in their career and we’re going to continue to play him.”
But that’s only if the injury allows it. If not, then Miami will be facing their first backup quarterback of the season.
Last year the Dolphins recorded their second victory of the season, a 16-12 fourth-quarter win over the Colts taking advantage of Brian Hoyer’s turnovers. Hoyer replaced an injured Jacoby Brissett and Miami forced him into numerous mistakes.
The Dolphins secondary has delivered the NFL’s sixth-best passer rating for opposing quarterbacks (87.8), which only trails the Colts, Steelers, Rams, Chiefs and Bears.
“The quarterbacks have different physical aspects. Some are better throwers. Some are better on the move. But you have to look at the coordinators as well,” safety Bobby McCain said, referring to the offense’s tendencies that generally come from the play-caller. “We have to understand what they like and what their tendencies are.”
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