MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Drew Lock passed for 151 yards and two touchdowns in three possessions in a crisp first audition for Denver’s open quarterback competition. Teddy Bridgewater was sharp, too, and the Broncos beat the Minnesota Vikings 33-6 on Saturday afternoon in their exhibition opener.
Broncos first-round draft pick Pat Surtain II scored on a 30-yard interception return after a misdirected throw by Vikings backup Jake Browning, who was then pulled for rookie Kellen Mond.
K.J. Hamler had 105 receiving yards, including an 80-yard catch, sprint and score from Lock on the first play after a safety against the Vikings. Trinity Benson had two touchdowns, one from each of the quarterbacks vying to be the starter for September.
Lock, entering his third year with Denver, took the first turn and finished 5 for 7. Bridgewater, acquired by new general manager George Paton in an offseason trade with Carolina, was 7 for 9 for 74 yards. Head coach Vic Fangio has already promised to flip the order for the next game.
With the late-summer sun streaming through the giant glass front doors, the fans — many of them wearing Broncos orange — were just happy to be back at U.S. Bank Stadium after the gates were closed for 2020 due to the pandemic.
All of Minnesota’s important players, including quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, wide receiver Justin Jefferson and a host of others, watched from the sideline without pads after two full days of practice against the Broncos at the team’s suburban headquarters this week. The only projected Vikings starter who played was defensive end Stephen Weatherly, leaving a lot to be desired for the competition level for Lock and Bridgewater.
The Broncos used most of their first-team offense, with running back Melvin Gordon III, wide receiver Courtland Sutton and left guard Dalton Risner the most notable absences.
Browning went 5 for 10 for 31 yards, playing behind the second-string offensive line. None of Denver’s projected starters on defense played.
Vikings right guard Dakota Dozier, who fell behind Oli Udoh in the competition for a starting spot, was whistled for holding on former teammate Shamar Stephen in the end zone for a safety. He had a false start penalty later.
Dozier was far from the only Viking who turned in a less-than-stellar effort. Coach Mike Zimmer told his team the first half was “ a very poor performance,” as he revealed in his halftime interview for the broadcast.
Mond, the third-round draft pick out of Texas A&M who could supplant Cousins in a year or two, went 6 for 16 for 53 yards. He rushed five times for 25 yards after missing a big chunk of training camp to COVID-19 recovery. He tested positive on July 31 and returned to practice earlier this week.
The standout for the Vikings was undrafted rookie A.J. Rose, who rushed 25 times for 100 yards in action extended by an early injury to rookie Kene Nwangwu.
Broncos: FS Trey Marshall suffered an ankle injury covering the opening kickoff and needed help to limp off the field. RB LeVante Bellamy, who had a 62-yard kickoff return, also hurt his ankle.
Vikings: Nwangwu, whose speed has been one of the highlights of training camp, returned the opening kickoff for 18 yards but hurt his knee and was declared out shortly after. LB Cam Smith, who sat out the 2020 season after open heart surgery, left with a concussion in the second quarter.
Broncos: play at Seattle next Saturday night.
Vikings: host Indianapolis next Saturday night.
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