ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The plan to give Peyton Manning a breather at training camp is designed to pay dividends not only for the five-time MVP but also his backup.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Brock Osweiler will get his biggest chance yet to prove he’s a worthy successor.
“Well, we’re going to evaluate him through training camp and evaluate him through the preseason,” GM John Elway said.
Osweiler’s extended apprenticeship has left him with just 30 passes on his résumé.
However, he’s not looking at this as his August audition.
“I’m a firm believer that practice is a huge deal,” Osweiler said. “So, I view every practice throughout the year” as important.
“I have really prided myself the past couple of years on how we have run that scout team to get our starting defense ready.”
Elway drafted Osweiler out of Arizona State in the second round in 2012, a month after signing Manning.
“We’re fortunate that Peyton’s been able to play this long. It’s been a positive. Obviously, to Brock it’s not been a positive because he hasn’t gotten the playing time,” Elway said.
Osweiler, though, hasn’t fretted or fussed.
“Brock’s done a tremendous job of handling the situation, put his nose to the grindstone and continued to work. I’m sure that he’ll continue to do that and we will get something worked out with that (contract) later,” Elway said.
Coach Gary Kubiak turns the offense over to Osweiler on Monday when the Broncos practice in full pads for the first time.
“It’s important that he walks out of that locker room and it’s his team for the day,” Kubiak said Sunday. “Peyton needs a break.”
Kubiak’s plan to dial down his workload hasn’t met much opposition from Manning, 39, who’s coming off a season in which he was hobbled by a strained thigh.
“I’m fine with it,” Manning said.
So is Osweiler.
“Anytime that Coach Kubiak wants to give me reps with the 1s, I’ll gladly accept those,” Osweiler said. “They’re hard to get.”
Kubiak is looking for Osweiler to polish not only his command of the huddle but also his footwork.
Osweiler said he’s eager to line up with Pro Bowl receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders “and build some continuity with that O-line and those backs.”
Lightening Manning’s workload has already paid dividends for Manning.
“I think he responded really well in the offseason program to not working every day. I thought his arm looked really good. I thought physically he looked really good. And I want to stay that course,” Kubiak said.
“I know he’s going to be beating my door down to be out there every day. But I think it’ll be good for him. It’ll be good for the team and for Brock to be able to go out there every third or fourth day and prove to the guys he can run the football team also.”
Elway said Manning might not notice the benefits of a lighter workload for a while.
“He’ll never feel it but obviously we get to December, we get to January, if we haven’t taken care of that in August, September and October that could hurt him — and us,” Elway said.
Osweiler has also benefited from Kubiak’s limiting Manning’s snaps this offseason, getting more work to shake off the rust and showcase his skills.
A mobile, 6-foot-8, 240-pound scrambler who started one season at Arizona State, Osweiler called Kubiak’s offense “a great fit.”
“I love it,” he said. “There are a lot of things in this offense that we did back at ASU when I was in school. I really like those things and getting out of the pocket, moving around, being able to use my athleticism and making some plays with my feet.
“I’m very excited about this offense and we’re just diving into it. In a couple of weeks, when we go up to Seattle, I’m excited to get up there on the game field and really run it.”