The Denver Broncos are rumored to be nearing a crossroads, with Peyton Manning continuing to improve from the multitude of injuries that knocked him out earlier this year but no certainty on whether he’ll return to the starting role.
Manning returned to practice on Wednesday, the first time in a month that he has been able to go through drills with the team. Manning worked under center, throwing out of the shotgun formation and showing what appeared to be good progress, the Denver Post reported.
Manning will not be ready to play this week, and it is not clear whether he will return to the starting spot at all. In Manning’s absence, Brock Osweiler has gone 3-1, including a win over the then-unbeaten New England Patriots. Under Osweiler, the Broncos have remained in contention for the No. 1 overall seed.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 16, 2015
Peyton Manning is back on the practice field https://t.co/uFh70cirhv
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) December 16, 2015
Peyton Manning lost his starting job amid one of the worst performances of his career. In a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, he completed just five of his 20 pass attempts, and had four interceptions. Manning left the game with an injured foot, and he has also suffered from a number of other bangs, including hurt ribs. He has been in a walking cast and a boot during the month of recovery.
The Denver Broncos have been feeding into the rumors about the future starter. While Peyton Manning appears to be nearing a return, the team has not officially said he he will get the job back, and at times appears evasive on the issue. And on Tuesday, the team did not list a quarterback news conference on its media schedule. The Denver Post reported that Broncos coach Gary Kubiak had actually not spoken to Osweiler and Manning until Tuesday afternoon, putting off the decision even more.
Kubiak had previously said that his meeting with Manning would be important to determine where the team would go next.
“I’ve got to see where he’s at; we’ve got to talk through our situation and see where’s he at,” Kubiak said (via ESPN). “We went through a good week last week, gave him a weekend off, so we’ll see where he’s at. We’ll have a plan in place by the time we get to Wednesday.”
Kubiak said Manning returning to practice would be the “next step” toward returning, but did not say much beyond that.
There have been rumors dating back months that the Denver Broncos were ready to move on to Brock Osweiler on a full-time basis. There were widespread reports this summer that the team would turn to the 6-foot-8 quarterback if Manning decided to retire. He ultimately came back, but his starting job appeared to be uncertain during what may be the worst of Manning’s career. Despite missing the last month, Manning still manages to lead the league in interceptions, with 17.
There are differing reports on Manning’s future. While some sources close to Manning have said he wants to play at least one more season, others have said that he would retire and move immediately into a front office job, with a handful of teams including the Cleveland Browns interested in making him a general manager.
The rumors surrounding the Denver Broncos will likely depend on how they continue to do under Brock Osweiler. The team has a championship-quality defense and could have a strong chance to win reach the Super Bowl if Osweiler can continue to offer strong performances. Keep winning, insiders say, and he will take the decision out of the hands of coaches entirely.
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