Printed on: January 02, 2013

The best backup gig in football

By Arnie Stapleton
AP Pro Football Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- All eyes were on Peyton Manning this season, especially Brock Osweiler's.

He's the Denver Broncos' other first-year quarterback, a 6-foot-8 passing project from Arizona State who's the first signal-caller ever drafted with the intention of one day succeeding the league's most decorated passer.

Osweiler bears a striking resemblance to "Twi-light" actor Robert Pattin-son, but what he really wants is to look more like Manning.

So, he's taken advantage of his apprenticeship by watching Manning's every move, scribbling copious notes and mimicking his mentor's notorious work ethic and preparation.

"There's no greater blueprint," said Osweiler, who also hopes to pick up some pointers from another pre-eminent passer this offseason in Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who waited in the wings for three years behind Brett Favre.

Osweiler said he's thrilled to be in Manning's shadow and insists he'll gladly bide his time while learning as much as he can from one of the game's greats.

Still, he says he's ready if needed.

"With my experience that I took being the backup at ASU, I understand what it's like to be thrown into the middle of a game," Osweiler said. "So, I just study that game plan inside and out and prepare like I'm the starter so if anything ever did happen, I'm ready to go."

If, heaven forbid, something should happen in the playoffs to the league's only four-time MVP, the next man up is a guy who's thrown all of four passes as a pro.

All of those throws came Sunday when Osweiler played the fourth quarter of Denver's 38-3 blowout of Kansas City, his fifth NFL game but the first in which he didn't just hand the ball off or line up in victory formation.

Osweiler, who handed off a dozen times before taking a knee three times, completed two passes for 12 yards in his three series of work Sunday.

"I'm not just here to hand off," he said.

Or take a knee, although he admits he's getting pretty good at that.

"I've got it down to where I'm taking only 1-yard losses," he joked. "At first, I was taking 2-yard losses."

All kidding aside, "those are game reps and those are hard to come by," said Osweiler, who knows he might be called upon at some point to make sure Denver's Super Bowl aspirations aren't derailed.

As Manning's backup, Osweiler only gets a handful of throws each week at practice, but he does get to pick the perfectionist's brain. Manning also takes time to tutor Osweiler, who's almost 15 years his junior.

"I've always tried to choose the right time to ask it because he's very busy with very important things, but he's been more than happy to help me out," Osweiler said.