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Young Broncos hope virtual work effectively replaces missing reps

Offseason restrictions aren't making life easier for any of the 32 NFL teams, but it might be even more difficult on those directed by inexperienced leaders.

Consider the Denver Broncos, a team injected with youth by general manager John Elway's most recent offseason of moves. At the head of their offense is a second-year quarterback with less than half of a season of work under his belt. He's entering 2020 with a new offensive coordinator to learn from in Pat Shurmur. And he'll have to do it all without in-person interaction, at least for most of the spring.

Teammate Courtland Sutton, merely a year older than Lock in terms of NFL experience, knows that isn't easy.

"You miss the huddle calls and you miss being able to hear (quarterback) Drew (Lock) call out a play in the huddle and us breaking the huddle and lining up," Sutton said, via the Denver Post. "That's something that is so underrated.

"I think people see us at games and it looks so smooth, but that's over a time of practice and before you even get to (training) camp. The OTAs that we're not getting, those are reps that are quality."

Lock isn't the only one who would benefit from on-field reps. The Broncos are welcoming a handful of new and potentially key additions in veterans Melvin Gordon and Graham Glasgow, and rookies Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Lloyd Cushenberry. All five of those players are expected to start alongside an offensive group that includes youngsters Lock, Sutton, Noah Fant, Phillip Lindsay, Jeff Heuerman, Dalton Risner, and even left tackle Garett Bolles, who is entering the fourth year of his career.

There's youth everywhere. They'd undoubtedly benefit from some work together.

"Being able to do that part as an offense is so huge," he said. "It does set you back, but I have faith in the coaches and preparing every (position) room. I have faith that we, as players, have taken every opportunity we can with this and running with it so when we do get a chance to be on the field, it's not going to be something that could take a whole week to get people acclimated."

The hope is the classroom time spent installing parts of the playbook will soak in enough to help these Broncos (and the rest of the NFL) hit the ground running. Time will tell whether that's true.

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