ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos haven't used the phrase "pitch-count" and Peyton Manning's name in the same sentence or anything, but it would be a rather large surprise if Manning played as much in the fast-approaching preseason games as he did last August.
Last season, Manning was returning from a missed 2011 -- because of multiple neck surgeries -- and trying to settle into a new offense as well as his new surroundings with the Broncos. And his goal was to play as much as he needed in order to feel prepared for the 2012 regular-season opener.
In the end it meant he finished the preseason 30-of-42 passing for 343 yards to go with two touchdowns and three interceptions combined in the three games he played.
Those figures were in the ballpark of Manning's previous 12 seasons in Indianapolis. Manning did not play in the 2011 preseason because of his neck, and did not play in the 2008 preseason when he had an infected bursa sac removed from his left knee.
But between 2000 and 2010 Manning attempted at least 40 passes in nine preseasons, at least 50 passes in two -- 2010 and 2002.
But if Manning and the Broncos coaches are happy with the progress of things in their workouts over the next two weeks, as well as the offense's work on their initial possessions Aug. 8 against San Francisco and Aug. 17 in Seattle, the team will be inclined to put Manning in a visor and Brock Osweiler behind center.
"We'll see how everything plays out, it's hard to predict how that goes,'' said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. "Last year, the San Francisco game, we were planning on Peyton Manning going through third quarter, then he threw (two) touchdown passes and he's out and the next guy is in.''
Like most teams, the Broncos have traditionally played the regulars on both sides of the ball more in the third preseason game, which would be Aug. 24 in Denver, against St. Louis. The Broncos like Osweiler's progress in the offense and have given him far more work in the shotgun, making more calls at the line of scrimmage than in last year's training camp.
And they will want to get him some work against first-team defenses over the next four weeks if they can.