ENGLEWOOD All eyes are on Peyton Manning, especially rookie Brock Osweilers.
The Denver Broncos other new quarterback is a 6-8 passing project whos the first signal-caller ever drafted with the intention of one day succeeding Manning.
Osweiler, who bears a striking resemblance to Twilight actor Robert Pattinson, wants to look more like Manning. So hes taking advantage of his apprenticeship by asking lots of questions, scribbling copious notes and emulating the four-time MVP on the field and in the weight room.
Osweiler genuinely seems thrilled to be in Mannings shadow and for however long it takes, gladly biding his time while learning as much as he can from one of the games all-time greats.
Well, Im in a great situation, no doubt about it, Osweiler said. I think the biggest thing for me is Im not wasting a day. Watching everything Peyton does, taking as many notes as I possibly can.
A second-round pick who started just one season at Arizona State, Osweiler signed a $3.1 million, four-year contract last month. If all goes well for the Broncos, hell become eligible for free agency without ever having taken a meaningful snap because Mannings $96 million deal is one year longer than Osweilers.
The Broncos and boss John Elway believe theyre set at the position for years to come.
The first thing I really noticed with Peyton is hes the hardest-working person regardless of any profession Ive ever been around, said Osweiler, who at 21 is 15 years Mannings junior. And the thing about Peyton is he doesnt waste a single minute in a day. He utilizes all of his time from the moment he walks into the building until the time that he leaves.
Although the proof is in the preseason, Osweiler already is making a push at training camp for the No. 2 job ahead of Caleb Hanie and Adam Weber.
Osweiler originally committed to Gonzaga to play basketball before changing his mind. In his one season as the Sun Devils starter in 2011, he completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,036 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Osweiler didnt throw overhand all the time at ASU, however, which negated his height advantage over pass-rushers. So, after deciding to forgo his senior season in a new system under a new coaching staff, he went to work with UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone from January until April to fix flaws in his passing game.
While former Denver QB Tim Tebows messy mechanics needed tons of work, Osweiler only needed tweaks, and he worked endless hours with Mazzone, who was his offensive coordinator at Arizona State and also served as Tebows offseason throwing coach.
With his old throwing motion, Osweiler couldnt capitalize on his superior size, dropping his right elbow below his shoulder and winging it out a bit. That cost him accuracy, consistency and velocity.
Hes rediscovered all three attributes throwing overhand, and hes only reverted to his old ways a couple of times in camp. Each time, quarterbacks coach Adam Gase has been right there to set him straight.
Some of his throws are so quick, it looks like hes flicking the ball to his receivers. But he remains very much a work in progress.
The great thing is that hes taking every note possible, watching Peyton and the other two quarterbacks play, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. Hes worked extremely hard during the offseason and just shows up every day and tries to get better.
Obviously, the more time and reps he gets, the better hell be, because as a quarterback, you need reps. If you just take one or two snaps here and there, its hard to get in the groove, and as youre learning a new system like he is, its going to take some time. So, like weve said in the past about the quarterbacks here, theres going to be some growing pains with him.
It would behoove both the Broncos and Osweiler if he wins the primary backup job behind Manning as a rookie so he can pick the perfectionists brain at practice rather than running the scout team.
Ive been in the shoes of a backup quarterback before I was one for two years so I know what you need to do throughout, whether its a practice or whether its a game, to make sure that youre getting better, Osweiler said. So, youve got to listen to the conversations Peytons having with the coaches, conversations hes having with the receivers.
My ears are open, my eyes are wide open, and Im just trying to soak it all in and get better every day.
Running the no-huddle offense, Osweiler at times looks a little bit like Manning deciphering a defense and changing a call at the line of scrimmage, although nobody in the NFL does it quite like Manning does.
Thats one thing Ive really asked Peyton quite a bit about is stuff to do with coverages, and every time he has an answer, Osweiler said. And I make a note and at the end of the night, Im putting all those notes into one kind of main notebook, so one day when Peytons not around, I can go back and see what he said about this coverage-2 or what he said about this play.
There are a lot of words in that notebook.