By Mark Schiff
After waiting patiently for over three seasons, it’s finally time: On Sunday, his 25th birthday, Brock Osweiler will make his first NFL start.
With starting quarterback Peyton Manning scheduled to miss Sunday’s game with a variety of injuries, Osweiler has been handed the keys to a team that has a comfortable three-and-a-half game lead in the AFC West but is reeling after back-to-back embarrassing losses. It’s not an easy position for Osweiler, whose first start also comes on the road against a surging Chicago Bears team. But given his job as backup to a Hall of Famer, Osweiler had to know that his first start would come as a result of hardship.
As Osweiler gets ready for the biggest game of his life, here are your Week 11 Broncos headlines.
Peyton promises not to get in Brock’s way
Brock Osweiler is going to be hearing from a lot of people as he prepares for Sunday’s game but one person that promises not to coach him up is quarterback Peyton Manning.
“I’m not a coach, for one thing,” Manning said about his role in this week’s preparations. “As I shared with him, he’s probably going to have a lot of coaches this week – some who aren’t coaches – that are going to be offering him tips of advice.”
Manning did say that he’s happy to field any questions that Osweiler has for him and Brock said that he appreciates Peyton’s guidance.
“Peyton has been extremely supportive of me. He just said, ‘If you need anything throughout the week, I’m here for you. I support you 100 percent and go get a win in Chicago,’” Osweiler told reporters.
John Fox plays it cool about Broncos reunion
Chicago head coach John Fox will be facing his former team for the first time since parting ways with the Broncos following last year’s divisional round playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But the former signal-caller wasn’t interested in grinding any axes when he spoke to Denver media on Wednesday.
“This is my eighth team, third as a head coach. So, there’s not too many games where you’re not playing against your old team,” Fox said. “So, it still counts the same.”
Along with Fox, the Broncos will face off against their former offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who joined Fox in the same role in Chicago and has helped guide Bears quarterback (and former Bronco) Jay Cutler to one of the best starts of his career.
“We’re all human, so emotion’s going to be involved,” Cutler said of Fox. “But he’s a professional. He’s been in this for a long time. He’s going to approach this game like we have the other ones.”
Because he was on the Denver staff that drafted Osweiler in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Arizona State, Fox admitted there was an advantage to going against Osweiler.
“We’re very familiar with him, spending the last few years with him. He’s a smart guy, he’s not afraid to work. I think from a preparation standpoint, he’s learned from probably one of the better guys to play the position,” Fox said. “So, I’m sure he’ll be very well-prepared and hopefully we will be, too.”
Bears running back Matt Forte nearing his return
Matt Forte has been one of the best and most consistent running backs in the NFL since coming into the league, but he’s missed the past two games with an MCL sprain. With his rookie back Jeremy Langford racking up 324 yards and three touchdowns in the Bears past two wins, Chicago has found a high quality replacement. But with Forte nearing his return, will John Fox have to sacrifice the playing time of a player who is looking like he’s developing into a star?
“In this league, it’s about the more the merrier,” Fox said. “You try to build competition within your own team. I think it makes everybody on your squad better. We’ll welcome Matt back with open arms.”
Still, Fox admitted that it could be “tricky” finding a balance between his two star backs.
“We’ll cross that bridge when it happens,” Fox said.
Mark Schiff is a freelance writer and music journalist for AXS.com. In 2013, his coverage of the Seattle Seahawks ended in heartbreak when they defeated the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Now covering his beloved hometown team, his knowledge and passion for pro football has resulted in multiple fantasy football championships. Find him on Twitter at @mihilites.