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Backup plan should be important for Elway, Broncos

Tuesday was a day for celebration in Denver. John Elway landed the big fish. He admitted it was the biggest day of his short career as an executive.

Elway presided over a playoff win, but this promised more: the chance for another Broncos title. It was one of the longest, strangest, happiest news conferences I've ever seen.

A cold dose of reality was added late in the session when a reporter asked for Elway's backup plan behind Manning.

"Plan B? I don't have a Plan B. We're going with Plan A," Elway said to laughter.

They aren't laughing in Indianapolis. (Or Chicago, where Caleb Hanie sunk a season.) It's easy to forget, amidst all the celebration, that Manning underwent four surgeries on his neck in the last two years. He didn't take a snap last season. Plan B matters.

Manning says he could play this weekend, but no one really knows. Even if Manning takes every snap of OTAs and minicamp, who knows if he'll be able to take a hit until Week 1?

The Broncos are trying to build a championship team for 2012, but Elway also must prepare for the long term. Manning's contract contains all sorts of injury protections. It recognizes the risk and looks like a series of one-year contracts.

Elway joked about "Plan B" on Tuesday, but finding the right backup remains a huge priority for Elway. That backup is unlikely to be Tim Tebow.

Don't be surprised if the Broncos draft their quarterback of the future -- aka Plan B -- in April.

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