Step­ping back into a backup role isn’t some­thing the 25-year-old quar­ter­back is happy about.

De­ci­sion to start Man­ning won’t stop his backup from be­ing ready

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Cameron Wolfe Cameron Wolfe: 303-954-1891, cwolfe@den­ver­post.com or @CameronWolfe

The Bron­cos don’t want Brock Osweiler happy be­ing a backup quar­ter­back. And he isn’t.

Osweiler’s com­pet­i­tive­ness was part of why the Bron­cos drafted him, and it emerged again when he was passed over for Pey­ton Man­ning as Den­ver’s play­off starter.

Coach Gary Ku­biak called Osweiler into his of­fice Thurs­day morn­ing to tell him the news.

“It was a lit­tle bit of dis­ap­point­ment as a com­peti­tor,” Osweiler said. “As some­one who loves be­ing on the field with his team­mates, it’s hard to hear that you’re not go­ing to be the one play­ing.”

Osweiler wasn’t sur­prised that Ku­biak chose Man­ning, but that didn’t make the de­ci­sion any eas­ier to swal­low. This move was ex­pected. “The start­ing quar­ter­back is back and healthy,” cor­ner­back Aqib Talib said. “It’s time for him to get his job back.”

Ev­ery time a Bron­cos player men­tioned Man­ning on Thurs­day, he quickly fol­lowed that with a com­ment about Osweiler lead­ing the team late in the sea­son.

It’s the time of the year when ev­ery­one is banged up. Man­ning has the left foot in­jury that opened the door for Osweiler to start seven games. Osweiler has a sprained right knee that caused him to miss prac­tice Thurs­day and will again Fri­day. Ku­biak knows he might need both quar­ter­backs to reach the Su­per Bowl.

“If any­body knows that you need to be pre­pared re­gard­less of the sit­u­a­tion, that’s me,” said Osweiler, 25. “I’ve lived that for 3½ years. I will be pre­pared to play next Sun­day. I will pre­pare like I was the starter.”

Osweiler went 5-2 in his starts while Man­ning was in­jured, in­clud­ing home vic­to­ries over the Pa­tri­ots and Ben­gals, the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the AFC.

He com­pleted 61.8 per­cent of his passes for 1,967 yards, 10 touch­downs and six in­ter­cep­tions.

“We think the world of Brock,” Ku­biak said. “He’s played ex­tremely well in some tough sit­u­a­tions.”

The Bron­cos com­mit­ted five turnovers in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale Sun­day against San Diego, all with Osweiler at quar­ter­back.

Em­manuel San­ders and C.J. An­der­son lost fum­bles. Osweiler threw two in­ter­cep­tions, but one bounced off the hands of wide re­ceiver Jor­dan Nor­wood into the arms of Charg­ers cor­ner­back Steve Wil­liams. Osweiler’s sec­ond in­ter­cep­tion came on a pro­tec­tion bust by of­fen­sive tackle Michael Schofield that al­lowed the Charg­ers’ Melvin In­gram to hit Osweiler’s arm while he was at­tempt­ing a deep pass in­tended for wide­out De­mary­ius Thomas.

Osweiler said it’s easy to won­der whether he would still be the starter with fewer turnovers.

“Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. Who knows? But at the end of the day, facts are facts,” Osweiler said. “I didn’t fin­ish the game. Pey­ton is go­ing to start in the play­offs, and that’s some­thing I sup­port 100 per­cent.”

For­mer sec­ond-round pick Brock Osweiler went 5-2 while start­ing Den­ver’s last seven games of the reg­u­lar sea­son. “Pey­ton (Man­ning) is go­ing to start in the play­offs,” Osweiler says, “and that’s some­thing I sup­port 100 per­cent.” He­len H. Richard­son, The Den­ver Post

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