While debate rages about whether the Denver Broncos should stay with Brock Osweiler as their starting quarterback, Peyton Manning just took a big step that shows he has every intention of returning to action this season.
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak told the media that Manning did some drills and “about a half hour of throwing” during practice on Wednesday. This was Manning’s first time throwing a football since he was sidelined with a variety of injuries 3.5 weeks ago.
He had a similar routine on Thursday, something he will continue for the next few days. He is to be re-evaluated next week.
Prior to being shut down and replaced by Osweiler, the Broncos reported that Manning was playing with an unspecified shoulder injury, a foot injury, and an unspecified rib-cage injury. After the Broncos lost to the Chiefs, during which Manning was replaced in the midst of the worst game of his career, Adam Schefter reported that Manning’s foot injury had worsened into a torn plantar fascia.
In Manning’s absence, Osweiler has played well, if not great, throwing five touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 61% of his passes.
More importantly, Osweiler has played well enough in his three starts that there is no longer pressure on the defence to win every game, something Manning had been struggling with before being taken out of the lineup.
But while many feel the Broncos’ best hope to win a Super Bowl is to stick with Osweiler, all signs point to Manning returning during the final weeks of the regular season, or perhaps the playoffs.
Prior to the Broncos’ most recent win, Kubiak made it clear that Manning is still the team’s starting quarterback and will return to that role once he is healthy.
“Listen, like I told you guys before, we’re totally committed to getting our quarterback — getting Peyton healthy and getting him back,” Kubiak told the media. “Nothing has changed.”
If Manning does return, speculation will then turn to whether or not these will be his final games as an NFL quarterback. There was a report that Manning intends to play next season, even if it is not with the Broncos. But finding a team willing to sign the soon-to-be 40-year-old could be challenging given his recent health and performance.
In other words, there is a very good chance that the playoffs could be Manning’s last hurrah and these will be the final games of his storied career.
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