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Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock passes during warmups before an NFL preseason football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

ENGLEWOOD — Drew Lock stepped up to the podium, taking a deep breath before addressing the Denver media.

For arguably the first time in his NFL career, the confident 24-year-old looked uncomfortable speaking to reporters Wednesday. His left foot tapped nervously behind him, with his voice as soft as it's ever been. He then delivered a 218-word opening statement about losing the Broncos' starting quarterback job to Teddy Bridgewater.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing," Lock said. "Every feeling that you could possibly have at this point, this day, this circumstance, you know they’re running deep. I feel like at the time, I was playing some of the best football I’ve played since I’ve been in the league. I was more confident than I’ve ever been. Most of you guys think of me as a confident guy, but I was probably more confident than I've been since I've been in the league, this OTAs, this training camp, this preseason.

"This is such a special team and I was hoping, moving forward, being able to lead this team. But no finger-pointing. No negativity. It’s going to be about me finding ways to still make this team great, whether that’s in practice, working with Teddy, trying to find ways for him to get better — whatever he needs me to do. That's pretty much my goal. Look in the mirror, see what I need to get better at. Figure out what it is to keep progressing, keep getting better. Not taking any steps back, just keep taking steps forward without taking some of the reps.

"It was disappointing, but I’m going to do everything I can for this team, for Teddy, and keep the momentum going forward as far as my play goes.”

Lock has shown tremendous growth this offseason, both on and off the field, with his opening statement being a perfect reflection of the latter. He has plenty of reason to hold his head high despite not winning the job, maturing as a person and a player, having the best training camp of his career, and performing well in the Broncos' first two preseason games.

But it wasn't enough to beat out Bridgewater, who was officially named the team's starter Wednesday, despite Lock's growth.

"His pocket awareness has improved, his command of the offense has improved, his accuracy has improved," coach Vic Fangio said. "I don't have any doubt that Drew can be a quality starting quarterback in this league."

As for where he and Bridgewater stand in terms of their relationship on the field and outside the locker room, it's safe to say there aren't any hard feelings. Both have admitted they've pushed each other this offseason and will continue to do so during the regular season.

Said Lock: "I know that right as you bring in a quarterback and it becomes a quarterback competition, it's whose chest is puffed out bigger and who can throw it better. ... But secretly, I was sitting back and learning everything I could from Teddy. And I think one of the special things he does that I've taken and that I'm going to keep adding into my game is how he communicates, the way he talks, how he operates after practice."

Said Bridgewater: "The thing I admire about Drew throughout all this is he's a guy who's just eager to learn and eager to be the best player he can be. ... Hopefully four or five years from now, I'm turning on the TV watching him play. ... Hopefully, we can just continue to grow, that way I can be that guy in his corner when he has questions throughout the course of his career."

For Lock, though, it's clear that losing this competition will sting for some time.

"I think the toughest part was getting (the news) and then going to the team meeting, knowing it was going to be talked about," an emotional Lock said. "You work at it, you want it so bad and it ends up not going in your favor. ... It's tough."

What's next for Lock remains unclear. It's unexpected he'll ask for a trade or be traded, but his time in Denver may be coming to a close following the 2021 season if he's not given one last opportunity to be the Broncos' franchise quarterback they've so desperately searched for since Peyton Manning's retirement in 2015-16.

But with Bridgewater's injury history, Lock likely will have a chance to play this season at some point. Fangio has said time and again the Broncos feel like both quarterbacks can win them games, and Lock has shown that this summer, having fewer turnovers in practice and zero in the two preseason games.

So when that opportunity comes, Lock hopes to make the most of it. Whenever that may be.

"If my time does come, I'll be ready for it," Lock said. "The work isn't going to stop."

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