Broncos Mailbag: After Gordon, Lindsay, how will running back depth chart pan out?

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag periodically during the offseason.

You can pose a Broncos- or NFL-related question for the Broncos Mailbag here. Follow Ryan for more daily updates on Twitter.

Do you think Tim Patrick will start over rookie KJ Hamler to start the season considering how well he finished the season under Drew Lock?
— Joe Hollands, Pocklington, England

A cop-out answer is it depends on the personnel package that offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur likes. He could like a bigger body like Patrick in certain situations. But if after the first game (Sept. 14 vs. Tennessee) ends Hamler doesn’t play more snaps than Patrick, that would be a surprise. Patrick should have a role on this team as the No. 4 receiver and as a core special teams player. His 2019 was derailed when he broke his hand in the opening game and missed half the season. But his ability to go up and get 50-50 passes makes Patrick a valuable role player.

My question this week is about the league as a whole. It sounds increasingly likely stadiums will start the season empty or with only partial capacity. With lost ticket revenue and more fans watching from home, has there been any buzz about the league finally catching up on streaming or a pay-per-game platform? I think almost every other major sports league allows fans to buy packages specific to their team and/or purchase a single game to view while the NFL has kept its heels dug in and makes you buy all the games or watch what’s local. This seems like it would help the league recover revenue while giving fans stuck at home a better experience. Why is the NFL so stubborn with their TV contracts?
— Steve, Forks, Wash.

I agree that teams will be able to host only a small number of fans for the first part of the regular season. The NFL has a streaming deal with Amazon for the Thursday night games, but after that, a fan’s options are 1. Local television; 2. RedZone Channel; and 3. Sunday Ticket (full schedule of non-prime time games). Because there are so few games (256 games over 17 weeks), the NFL offering a pay-per-game option probably isn’t an option. What the NFL should do is not panic, realizing that the next television deal will help make up for the anticipated financial short-fall coming up this year.

Radio host Colin Cowherd was gushing about Drew Lock’s potential for the 2020 season last week. From what you’ve seen up close, does he really have the tools to become the next Carson Wentz, Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes?
— Mike Phelps, Chicago

Cowherd is all about the Broncos in general and Lock in particular and good for him, going against the grain makes for good radio. As for Lock, I do think he has a chance to become better than Carson Wentz, but it’s a big jump from there to Jackson and an even bigger jump from there to Mahomes. Lock shouldn’t waste time trying to measure himself against those players. Instead, his focus should be on showing consistent progress, which in turn will lead to wins.

Ryan, how does Josey Jewell fit in with the Broncos in 2020? I don’t want to say he’s hit his ceiling, but I think what we’ve seen is what we’ll get with him moving forward, especially with Todd Davis and Alexander Johnson in front of him.
— Marshall, Denver

Jewell ended 2018 as a starting inside linebacker, but played only 221 defensive snaps last year after Alexander Johnson took over his spot. Jewell’s fit is as a reliable backup linebacker and experienced special teamer. The Broncos didn’t address inside linebacker during the offseason save for fifth-round pick Justin Strnad.

With our running backs, it’s Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay and the rest. How does the depth chart shake out? Does Royce Freeman stick around as the No. 3? Is it finally time to unleash Khalfani Muhammad?
— John T., Northglenn

Going into camp, the order will be Gordon, Lindsay and then things get interesting. Does Shurmur see enough in Freeman to keep him around as an insurance back? Or do the Broncos feel two years of Freeman was enough and instead go with Muhammad or rookie LeVante Bellamy? The preseason games will be important for Muhammad and Bellamy.

The Broncos mailbag returns July 1.

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