NFL Wire News

Manning still in driver’s seat for Broncos

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos are still quarterback Peyton Manning’s team. Even with head coach Gary Kubiak infusing concepts from his past offenses into the attack, the Broncos will still likely end up running an offense based around what Manning does best.

There will still be plenty of no-huddle looks. And Manning will still have what Kubiak describes as “a great deal” of freedom to make plenty of pre-snap changes at the line of scrimmage.

“He’s been the best in the business at doing that for many, many years,” Kubiak said. “This past offseason was really about us coming together and getting on the same page as far as things that we want to do offensively, and we’re carrying obviously a lot of things that he’s done throughout the course of his career, and that is the big strength that he’s handled.

“So there’s still going to be much of that involved. That won’t change, and I think we just kind of added to the playbook. Obviously, we’ve got him under center a little bit more than he’s been in the past, so we’ll put it all together, but we’ll do what we do best, and obviously he’s done that well for a long time.”

But between the start of training camp and the beginning of the regular season, Manning’s regimen will look markedly different. Just as he did during OTAs, Manning will receive regular off-days during training camp, with backup Brock Osweiler set to receive first-team repetitions “every third or fourth day” in training camp.

Manning at first appeared to chafe at the notion of sitting out some offseason work but then adjusted. On the days he was given a respite from the field, he could often be seen practicing his drop-backs and simulating handoffs, doing anything he could to keep busy.

“I think that he responded really well in the offseason program about not working every day,” Kubiak said. “I think that his arm looked really good, I thought, physically, looked really good and I want to stay that course.”

With those weeks of work — and non-work — in his rear-view mirror, Broncos general manager John Elway believes Manning has adjusted well to the changes.

“I think he’s getting a lot better with it,” Elway said. “I think that he realizes where he is, so I think he’s getting a lot better at understanding what his body can and can’t do.

“The last thing to follow is our mind thinks that our body can always do it. No matter if you’re 55 like I am or 39, you still think you can do certain things. And you just can’t do that. I think he understands that situation and he’ll be good with it.”

And the added benefit is that days off allow the Broncos to get a more thorough evaluation of Osweiler. His contract expires after this year, and while the Broncos have pointed to him as their quarterback of the future since selecting him in the second round of the 2012 draft, they haven’t had enough snaps to make the call one way or the other.

“He’s come up a little different than some of the young quarterbacks that are coming up these days,” Kubiak said. “He’s getting a chance to grow the right way and he needs to take advantage of that. I think that everything is in place, he just needs to keep pushing.”

But he can only push so much. If the additional rest helps Manning stay fresh, the Broncos are still his team — perhaps into 2016, if Manning chooses to play out the final year of his contract.


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