Broncos OTA Football 3 QBs 2021 (copy)

Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5), Brett Rypien (4) and quarterback Drew Lock (3) talk while stretching during Denver Broncos OTAs at the team's headquarters Monday, May 24, 2021, in Englewood.

Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater began competing Monday at Dove Valley and with intensity against each other and The Man Who Isn’t Here Or There.

The aura of TMWIHOT hangs over OTAs in two NFL locations.

The missing man did not show up for a workout. His vacation to Hawaii cost him a half-million-dollar bonus.

Meanwhile, the dueling quarterbacks were on the field together for the first time as Broncos, went through their first 7-on-7 practice of phase three offseason organized team activities and told the media and the world they are paying no attention to the white noise or the orange noise.

Bridgewater, the latest of almost 60 quarterbacks to join the Broncos since 1960, said his approach is to “just keep my head down and control what I control. These days are an opportunity for me to get better as a teammate and a person. This is a business. I understand the nature of it. ... My mindset is competition.’’

Lock, one of 54 starting quarterbacks in Broncos history, said he has totally turned off and tuned out social media and apparently stopped reading such stuff as this column. “Regardless of what happened, if I stayed, if I left or if I was to be the guy, my mindset didn’t change. I want this team to be good. I want to help this team get back to the playoffs. I put it all into this offseason plan to put a little fire back into this city and this team.’’

Neither quarterback mentioned by name the old guy who might become the 15th 30something quarterback brought to Denver.

And each barely talked about the other starting quarterback contender who is in town. As starters in Colorado and Carolina last year, they were adversaries for the only time as Lock threw for four touchdowns in a 32-27 Broncos’ victory over the Panthers and Bridgewater, who ran for one touchdown, but didn’t pass for one. Each seeks to become No. 1 again.

They’ve set their minds not to think about The Man Who Would Be King in Colorado.

Everybody within the franchise is concentrating on the two quarterbacks who are here, as most everybody outside the organization still is talking about the quarterback is nowhere in the NFL now.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio was reiterating Monday that Lock and Bridgewater will split repetitions equally throughout OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason. But not on a daily basis. So if Lock has an advantage in plays with the offense’s first unit one day, Bridgewater will be elevated the next. Someone obviously will be keeping count, and media bodies will be trying to keep up with the comparison.

However, Fangio is not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Especially if the Broncos make their most significant acquisition since trading for first overall draft pick John Elway in 1983 and persuading unrestricted free agent Peyton Manning to sign in Denver in 2012.

If no deal is done, and Bridgewater and Lock indeed remain the mano-a-mano challengers, Brett Rypien, the forgotten third quarterback, just will be an occasional stand-in.

Lock and Bridgewater likely will have body tweaks and have to sit out a day or several. They have been injured before. Teddy missed practically all of 2016-17 with a grotesquely torn ACL and a dislocated kneecap. He was out for one game last season with a knee issue. Lock has been sidelined in his two years with the Broncos. As a rookie Drew suffered a partial tear of the ligament in his right thumb and didn’t start until the 11th game. Last year he couldn’t play in two games because of a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder, and he was out for a third because of COVID-19 protocol.

If they remain healthy, one will start the first exhibition in Minnesota and the other the second in Seattle.

No way, though, Fangio, GM George Paton and coordinator Pat Shurmur will delay making a decision on a starter until after the final exhibition (only three this year) at home vs. the Rams on Aug. 28.

The triumvirate will know which way to go before then.

Who will be the starter in the regular-season opener?

Guess who? Lock, Bridgewater or TMWIHOT.

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