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Denver Broncos must prep Peyton Manning's backup

"NFL Total Access" continues with its "32 teams in 32 days" series. We decided to score some brownie points by writing an accompanying post each night. We'll focus on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1.

Denver Broncos must plan for worst-case scenario

When the Broncos won the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes in March, it felt like the team had instantly stamped a multiyear ticket toward postseason relevance.

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Manning is that type of transcendent player. But while our guess is Manning remains the same player we last saw with the Indianapolis Colts, it's important to keep in mind this is a guy who has been out of football for 18 months following a series of neck surgeries.

Manning might be back to nearly full health, but what if the unthinkable happens? What if Manning takes a hit and is lost for a significant amount of time? Or, worse yet, is lost for the season at an early stage?

The Broncos traded away a strong backup in Tim Tebow and currently have a QB depth chart that includes Chicago Bears washout Caleb Hanie, second-round pick Brock Osweiler and Adam Weber, an undrafted free-agent signing in 2011.

Osweiler is being cultivated as Manning's successor so don't expect John Fox to rush him into action. That means it will likely fall on Hanie, who proved last season replacing star quarterbacks mid-stream isn't necessarily his thing.

The Colts showed last season what happens when you don't adequately prepare for the loss of your franchise star. Learn from history, Mr. Elway, or be doomed to repeat it.

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