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USATSI

Less than a week after starting quarterback Drew Lock went down with a shoulder injury, the Denver Broncos added veteran free agent Blake Bortles not only as QB insurance but as a potential replacement under center. Now, however, with Lock on track to make his return against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Bortles is back on the street. The Broncos have released the backup in order to make room for practice-squad call-up Sylvester Williams, the team announced on Saturday.

Bortles, 28, had reportedly passed on other opportunities during his summer as a free agent before signing with Denver because of an apparent path to playing time. But the former first-round draft pick, who started 74 games with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2014-18, didn't take a single snap in his two games on the roster, instead watching as reserves Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien replaced Lock. Bortles may have had a chance to see the field in Week 5, when Lock wasn't guaranteed to suit up, but then that game was postponed to this weekend as a result of the Patriots' battle with COVID-19 cases.

Bortles' departure, then, signals one thing more than anything: Drew Lock is ready to go. The second-year starter is the unquestioned leader of Vic Fangio's squad, which went 1-1 in his absence before an unexpected Week 5 bye. Despite a questionable designation on this week's injury report, Lock has been a steady presence at recent practice after recovering from his shoulder injury.