ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – There will be a time and a place when Brock Osweiler can finally wrap his head around the numbers, but the time isn’t now and the place won’t be behind center for the Denver Broncos Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Osweiler has waited 43 months since the Broncos made him a second-round selection in the 2012 draft to make his first regular-season start at quarterback. The Broncos have played 57 regular-season games in that span, won three AFC West titles and played in one Super Bowl.
All the while Osweiler has lived the life of a future starting quarterback, sitting, watching and learning behind an established starter, in this case a future Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning, before getting tossed into the deep end of the NFL pool.
“I’ve prepared for this moment for a very long time,’’ Osweiler said after practice Wednesday. “I haven’t wasted a single day, I’m just going to stick to the preparation that got me to this point and I’ll be ready to go on Sunday.’’
The Broncos selected Osweiler in the second-round of the 2012 draft as an insurance policy of sorts. General manager John Elway wanted the team of have a prospect on the roster just after the Broncos had signed Manning. Not only to train, but a just-in-case option because at the time Manning’s return from spinal fusion surgery was not the slam dunk it became.
Manning has made every start since signing with the Broncos, right up until Sunday’s game. Having dealt with right shoulder, left foot and rib cage injuries of late the Broncos have put Manning on a treatment-only program -- no practice, no games -- for at least the near future.
And that makes Osweiler, after all of those flips of the calendar pages, The Guy for the moment.
“It’s hard not play the what-if game and what’s going to happen and if I’m ever going to start,’’ Osweiler said. “I really did put all that aside and I tried to narrow my focus ... it truly worked for me. When I kept my focus just one day at a time, one week at a time, and only worried about that task that was at hand, I never really got into the whole am I ever going to start am I not going to start, I didn’t really buy into the what-ifs.’’
Still, that’s a lot of weeks with a one-day-at-a-time approach. That’s a lot of practices with little chance for any game action as a carrot to get through the weeks.
Asked what his approach would have been if he had to wait almost four years for his first NFL start, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas took a pragmatic approach.
“I would take advantage of it,’’ Thomas said. “ … Playing behind [Manning], that’s like me playing behind … Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith and Jerry Rice. [Manning] is a future Hall of Famer, Brock learned and now he gets a chance.’’
“You can tell that he's excited to play,’’ said Broncos tight end Virgil Green. “... He looks to take control of the offense when he gets in that huddle. He's confident and we all have a lot of confidence in him.’’
For his part Osweiler said Wednesday he’s not looking to put “the weight of world’’ on his shoulders in a long-awaited start. Rather Broncos coach Gary Kubiak has told Osweiler to live in the moment.
Osweiler said he plans to seek Manning’s counsel later in the week and already he has asked quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp to describe how Knapp thinks a defensive coordinator would attack a quarterback making his first start.
“The things I’ve learned behind him, I don’t know where a quarterback gets elsewhere,’’ Osweiler said. “ ... I really have not wasted a single second in this building, in the room with Peyton.’’