But the second-year quarterback, who was the guy the Broncos selected in the 2011 draft to be the quarterback of the future just weeks after they had signed Peyton Manning to power them in the present, got his most regular-season game experience in the Broncos’ 34-13 victory against the Oakland Raiders.
With Manning having torched the Raiders for 266 yards passing and four touchdowns in the first half, Osweiler played the entire second half. He finished 9-of-13 passing for 85 yards.
He had entered the day having thrown seven passes in the previous 31 games combined. He narrowly missed a long completion to wide receiver Andre Caldwell and had another possible big gainer taken away when the officials, after a replay review, ruled tight end Jacob Tamme had not completed a spectacular one-handed effort and kept his feet in-bounds. Both plays could have led to touchdown drives, but instead the Broncos had a field goal in Osweiler's five real drives -- the Broncos took a knee on the last play of the game for their sixth possession of the half.
“There’s nothing that can replace those reps,’’ Osweiler said. “I think there was a couple throws, I know there was a couple throws, that I could have back, maybe not rushed as much, because I know I can hit some of those deep throws. That one to [Caldwell], the one to Tamme on the sideline. I know I can put those where it needs to be to be caught.’’
Broncos head coach John Fox said the team didn’t enter the day with the thought of getting Osweiler on the field. But after the Broncos launched themselves from the gate for a 31-0 halftime lead and the chance to take Manning out of harm's way, the time seemed right.
“We didn’t have a plan, our goal was to play as good an outing as we have this season,’’ Fox said. “And I thought the first half was about as good in all three phases as we’ve been all year.’’
Osweiler played behind the starting offensive line, but the Broncos did rotate some other players in with the some of the skill positions. Running back Knowshon Moreno did not play in the second half and wide receiver Eric Decker also sat out much of the second half and the Broncos worked Joel Dreessen and Virgil Green in more at tight end. But all in all, the Broncos and Osweiler were happy with what they saw.
“Go to my very first preseason game two years ago to now -- it’s night and day,’’ Osweiler said. “I think I’ve grown exponentially game after game, month after month and now I can say year after year. And hopefully I don’t have to make mistakes on the field to learn. Hopefully when and if I ever become the starter I’ve learned so much from [Manning] I don’t have to make those mistakes.’’