ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — These are the days Brock Osweiler lives for.
When you’re a fourth-year quarterback who has yet to start an NFL game; when you’re entering the final year of your rookie contract still waiting for your shot; and when you’re Peyton Manning’s understudy, you embrace chances like No. 17 did at practice Monday.
With Manning among the several starters getting a breather, Osweiler made the most of his opportunity, getting the bulk of the snaps at practice as he continued to digest coach Gary Kubiak’s run-oriented offense that is both newfangled and old-fashioned.
“It’s huge,” Osweiler said. ”First of all, I absolutely love it. I’m getting more reps than I’ve ever gotten as a Bronco. Peyton’s out and I split time with Zac (Dysert). So, I’m getting twice what I usually get. So, it’s very valuable to a young player and especially in a new offense.”
Kubiak is managing Manning’s minutes, not only because of his age – 39 – but to get a good look at the five-time MVP’s heir apparent who’s thrown just one TD pass in his three seasons in the NFL.
Kubiak said he knows Manning is “not a big fan” of taking a day off, “but I just think it’s important. I talked to him about it. You want guys that want to practice. They all want to practice. But you try to convince them, ‘Hey, I want you there for the long haul and as healthy as you can be and as strong as you can be, and I also want to find out about these guys.”’
Like Manning, Osweiler is adjusting to playing quarterback differently, going up to the line of scrimmage, rolling out, handing off more.
“Yeah, in fact it’s more under center since probably little-guy football when you didn’t do shotgun,” Osweiler said. “But it’s good. I like it. You get your hand on the ball a little quicker. You’re able to make some reads that maybe would have taken a little more time from gun.
“There are obviously a lot of new things going on. But there are a lot of good things going on.”
The latest change in Denver is rookie Ty Sambrailo auditioning for left tackle after starter Ryan Clady tore his left ACL last week.
Kubiak said Sambrailo has the smarts to handle it and that he’s only going to benefit from facing Pro Bowl pass-rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller at practice all the time.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to be thrown into,” said Sambrailo, a second-round pick from Colorado State who was competing at right tackle until Clady got hurt.
“Being drafted and being on a team like this, there are expectations no matter what is going on,” Sambrailo said. “I think coming in playing right or left didn’t really make a difference. I was expected to come in and compete.”
The coaches aren’t easing Sambrailo – or any of the other young linemen – into things, either. Kubiak said it’s his philosophy to ”throw everything at them and you see what’s sticking and what’s not.”
The Broncos are, however, being cautious with first-round draft choice Shane Ray, a linebacker who made his on-field debut in position drills Monday. He had been sidelined with a toe injury since the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.
As for his QBs, Kubiak said he plans to continue resting Manning on occasion and giving those snaps to Osweiler, at least through training camp.
Asked if he needs days like this to succeed in his cameo appearances during the season, Osweiler demurred.
“The only thing I know is it’s not hurting me,” he said. “… I love all the extra reps. I’ll take as many as they want to give me. In fact, sometimes, I try to sneak in a couple extra. If I see Zac not running in yet, I try to act like they’re my reps. And then I get ripped out.”
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