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Peyton Manning practices; Kubiak calls it 'step back in right direction'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For the first time in a month, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning took part in a practice, and while he will not be in uniform for Sunday's game in Pittsburgh, Denver coach Gary Kubiak called it "a step back in the right direction."

Manning, who had not participated in a practice since Nov. 13 and has missed the past four games, took part in individual drills Wednesday, was in one 7-on-7 period, and was the scout team quarterback for one of the starting defense's practice periods.

"He did fine, he did fine," Kubiak said following the workout. "Basically we did individual [drills], took a 7-on-7 period, a defensive period, took a step [Wednesday], we'll take a look at [Thursday], probably do a little bit more [Thursday] ... but a step back in the right direction.''

Sunday in Heinz Field will mark Brock Osweiler's fifth consecutive start; the Broncos are 3-1 in his previous four starts, with the first loss coming this past Sunday, 15-12, to the Oakland Raiders. Osweiler was sacked five times in the game and did not throw a touchdown pass, but it was his first 300-yard passing game (308 yards).

Manning, who suffered a tear in the plantar fascia near his left heel in the Broncos' Nov. 8 loss in Indianapolis, had last practiced two days before his 5-of-20 passing day with four interceptions in the Broncos' Nov. 15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Officially, Manning was listed on Wednesday's practice report by the Broncos with limited participation.

"It was great, it was great to have him out there, throwing footballs," Osweiler said. "Just to get him back on the field, working and having him beside you, it's great to have him back out there."

Over the past month Manning had his left foot immobilized -- first in a cast, then in a walking boot -- for two weeks before he restarted his rehab. Last week, Manning added a throwing regimen to his rehab program. He threw in three 30-minute sessions with the team's strength and conditioning coaches.

Kubiak announced Tuesday that Osweiler will start against the Steelers, and following Wednesday's practice the coach said rookie Trevor Siemian will be the team's backup quarterback. Manning will be officially designated as out.

"It was a little strange to watch Peyton take those scout team reps [Wednesday]," Osweiler said. "Once again that was something that was out of my control; I was told to go to the first-team huddle and you're the starter this week, and that's what I did ... but, yeah, it's a little different watching Peyton run scout team."

Manning looked comfortable throwing the ball during the open period of practice, taking a full stride in his delivery as well as jogging from one drill to the next. Kubiak, as he has for the past month, continued to call the decision of who will play at quarterback a "week-to-week" one.

Kubiak was asked Wednesday if he could say whether or not Manning would have a chance to play in a Monday Night Football matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals next week.

"I'm going to stay focused a week at a time,'' Kubiak said. "I'm not going to talk about what's going on three weeks from now, two weeks from now; we're committed to playing Pittsburgh ... we know who our quarterback is this weekend, we know the other one is out. We're going to stay committed week-to-week, OK. That's not going to change."

"I'm just going to show up and do my job each day," Osweiler said.