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There was no easing into the fight last week for Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel. A screen pass or consecutive hand-offs to let his body and mind get settled into the task of replacing Drew Lock? No way.

Out of the shotgun on his second snap, Driskel looked left before shifting his eyes to the middle of the field, where he found receiver Jerry Jeudy on a crossing route for 20 yards. Right after releasing the football, Driskel was driven into the turf by Pittsburgh’s Cam Heyward.

“That was impressive,” Broncos quarterback coach Mike Shula said.

Driskel bounced right back up … kind of how he did when leading a new high school program in a suburb of Orlando, Fla.

He kept on absorbing punishment so he could keep slinging it … kind of like he did during college stops at Florida and Louisiana Tech.

And he earned the respect of

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After serving as Phillip Lindsay’s backup for most of the past two years, it appeared Royce Freeman was being phased out at running back this offseason.

Denver signed veteran Melvin Gordon to a two-year, $16 million deal in March, and before camp added undrafted rookie LeVante Bellamy as well as second-year pro Jeremy Cox via a futures contract. But Freeman didn’t blink in the face of more competition and opened the season as the team’s No. 3 running back.

“I tell myself to control what I can control, and that’s my effort and how I come out in practice. At the end of day, I’m not in control of anything but that,” Freeman said. “That’s what I am focused on — not listening to a lot of noise, not listening to a lot of this or that. That’s what the mindset has been and it helped me when I was

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Titans head coach Mike Vrabel addresses reporters following Tennessee’s 16-14 victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.

Nashville Tennessean

DENVER — He was awful. He was a disaster. He was the latest headache in an ongoing nightmare for the Titans …

Until he wasn’t.

For a moment, at least.

Stephen Gostkowski was 0-for-3 on field-goal attempts as Monday night’s game against the Denver Broncos entered its final moments. On attempts from 47, 44 and 42 yards away, he was wide right, wide left and had one blocked – the worst kind of hat trick.

But the recently signed kicker’s 25-yarder with 17 seconds left sailed through the uprights to rally the Titans to a 16-14 win, making Gostkowski the unlikeliest of heroes, if you could call him that.

“It’s definitely an opportunity I didn’t deserve, but grateful I got it for the team,” Gostkowski said. “The guys

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Tennessee Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski (3) lines up his field goal attempt during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Tennessee Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski salvaged an otherwise forgettable night by making the game-winning field goal with 17 seconds left to secure a 16-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football

Gostkowski, who signed with the Titans in early September after 14 years with the New England Patriots, missed three field goals, one of which was blocked, and also missed an extra point before the last-minute heroics.

“It’s tough. It’s part of the position. It’s a very fickle position,” he told reporters. “It’s definitely an opportunity I didn’t deserve, but grateful that I got it for the team and the guys that went out there and busted their butt. I really put them in a tough spot.”

Gostkowski was reliable during his career with the Patriots, including six seasons where he played at last eight games and missed three or fewer field goals. Monday

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With starting inside linebacker Todd Davis sidelined by a calf injury since last week, now is the time for Josey Jewell to prove what he can do in his second year in Broncos coach Vic Fangio’s system.

“Last year, I was playing a little slow with the mental part of the game, and not just letting myself go,” said Jewell, who has been taking Davis’ reps with the No. 1 defense. “This year, I’ve gotten a lot better about that and I’m flying around the football without thinking about it too much.”

Jewell, a fourth-round pick in 2018, earned a starting role midway through his rookie season and carried that job into 2019. But he lost it after three games, when he injured his hamstring at Green Bay. Alexander Johnson eventually took over his spot and did not relinquish it.

Now, with Davis out of training camp indefinitely — Fangio

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When training camp rolls around, the major box-office draw for fans is seeing how the Denver Broncos’ top draft picks are shaping up. So far so good on that front as both first- and second-round wideouts Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler have been turning heads while third-round center Lloyd Cushenberry III has earned the opportunity to split first-team reps.

Head coach Vic Fangio hasn’t been afraid to throw his top rookies straight into the rigors of camp to get a feel for how they handle the pressure and how they perform. The veteran coach is similarly aware that complete NFL rosters are filled out by mid-to-low-round draft picks who can contribute if given the opportunity.

One such prospect is Justin Strnad, whom the Broncos grabbed in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. Fangio likes what he’s seen from the 23-year-old Wake Forest stand-out and is challenging him to respond

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