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Emmanuel Sanders on Manning: 'Peyton was last year'

While Mark Sanchezlooks to be the leader by default so far, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak refuses to name a starter heading into Week 1 of the preseason.

That isn't stopping Emmanuel Sanders from urging his team to move beyond the departed signal-caller.

Denver's wideout respects and appreciates Peyton Manning, but he's moved past the mourning stage, and is ready to heal and proceed forward after his teammate rode off into the sunset upon winning Super Bowl 50.

"Peyton was last year," Sanders said after Friday's practice, via ESPN. "I texted him [Thursday] and told him I miss him being out here, but at the end of the day this is a new team and the same goal. We have to get past that Peyton Manning era. Right now we're trying to find ourselves a quarterback and that's what it's about."

Kubiak noted that while Sanchez is taking more of the starter's reps, backup Trevor Siemian -- who has about as little NFL experience as possible without having none -- is pushing the veteran and making it a battle. Sanders agreed.

"These guys are out here competing," Sanders said.

This isn't the first time Denver has dealt with the retirement of a legend after reaching football's pinnacle, but unlike John Elway's departure in 1999, Denver's backup on the roster, Brock Osweiler, bolted for a bigger contract elsewhere, leaving its front office to scramble to fill the depth chart. That resulted in Sanchez, Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch, who is the long-term project but is the least likely to hit the field anytime soon.

"Everybody misses Peyton, but even Peyton would say you have to go play," said wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. "He'd want us to win -- to do what we're supposed to do. There's nobody like Peyton, and I think sometimes that makes it easier to kind of move on, you know there's not anybody like him so you don't worry about waiting for the next one."

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