Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler will start Sunday against the Bears in place of Peyton Manning, and sources say it could be longer than that. Coach Gary Kubiak and Manning will sit down Monday to discuss the quarterback's status, but the focus is on making sure he's healthy no matter how long it takes.
That should lead to extended audition for Osweiler, the former second-round pick. In talking with several sources informed of the Broncos' thinking, no one has ruled out Osweiler taking over if he lights it up. Their focus is simply on getting Manning upright again, then seeing where the situation leads them.
Manning is home in Denver, dealing with a painful case of plantar fasciitis, in addition to a rib injury. Sources say Manning's MRI came back relatively clean, with just a strain. But it's still uncomfortable.
If Osweiler has more than one start, the Broncos have gotten him ready. They had him act as the starter during several days of training camp to see how the players would respond, and how Osweiler would be as the starter. Meanwhile, Manning sat. It was the same during some Wednesdays this season, which is something Manning had to come to grips with.
As for Osweiler, the team needs to make a decision. They haven't talked contract yet with him, mainly because they don't know what they have. Is he their future?
Many in the organization are split on whether he is or is not. And there isn't a body of work yet to help them decide.
But people who have seen Osweiler describe him as one of the hardest workers in the organization, as prepared as any backup they've seen. He has underrated athleticism, and the belief is you'll see today what Kubiak's offense really should look like. He'll be on the move more often than Manning ever was. He is overflowing with intangibles.
How will he be when it's live action? Time will tell. What sources do say is that Osweiler's play may decide when Manning returns. If he performs well Sunday, it will allow the team to make sure Manning takes as much time as he needs -- while they ride the hot hand. It'll all begin to play out this afternoon.