Jul 30, 2015 8:19 PM
Kubiak hoping history repeats itself with Elway, Manning
The Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Gary Kubiak sure has the blueprints.
He helped guide the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 1990s as John Elway's backup-turned tutor and now he's trying to steer them back to the top of the NFL behind 39-year-old Peyton Manning.
On the eve of his first training camp as Denver's head coach, Kubiak said: "I can remember some of the conversations we're having now are some of the same conversations we had as coaches going into John's last year or two, how we were going to approach his work, how we were going to go about things."
Bottom line: plenty of rest for Manning, a notorious workhorse who's long been loath to give away any snaps.
With Manning coming off a thigh injury that hampered him down the stretch last season, Kubiak gave backup Brock Osweiler lots of work this offseason and he plans to do that again through camp and into the season.
"I think (Manning) responded really well in the offseason program to not working every day. I thought his arm looked really good. I thought physically he looked really good. And I want to stay that course," Kubiak said.
"I know he's going to be beating my door down to be out there every day. But I think it'll be good for him. It'll be good for the team and for Brock to be able to go out there every third or fourth day and prove to the guys he can run the football team also."
Watching from his office balcony above the football fields at the UCHealth Training Center, Elway has flashbacks as he watches Kubiak manage Manning's snaps.
"Our mind thinks our body can always do it," Elway said. "No matter if you're 55 like I am or 39 you still think you can do certain things and you know, you just can't do that. So, I think he understands that situation and he'll be good with it."
Elway said Manning might not notice the benefits of a lighter workload until the winter.
"He'll never feel it but obviously we get to December, we get to January, if we haven't taken care of that in August, September and October that could hurt him and us," Elway said.
The ancillary benefit of giving Manning some snaps and even full days off is getting Osweiler more work.
Manning's backup has thrown just one TD pass in his three seasons in the NFL, but he's entering a contract year still needing to prove he's a worthy successor to the five-time MVP.
Kubiak can certainly relate. He was Elway's career backup before taking up coaching and becoming his offensive coordinator.
"I have the feeling of what it's like to be that guy. So, there are a lot of things I can relate to (Osweiler), but I've been very impressed with him," Kubiak said. "Work is not a problem. He likes to play and he wants to lead. So, that's all you ask of a player."
Kubiak, who revealed he'll call the offensive plays, also will keep close tabs on middle linebackers Danny Trevathan (knee) and Brandon Marshall (foot), tight end Virgil Green (hamstring) and star receiver Demaryius Thomas, who missed all of the offseason program before signing a five-year, $70 million contract earlier this month.
Even with limited snaps, Manning is going to have to quickly find his rhythm with Thomas in this new offense that features the quarterback's tactical and timing proficiencies while placing a greater emphasis on the run and two-tight end sets.
Elway said Kubiak and Manning will mesh just fine because "that running game will be Peyton's best friend" just as it was Elway's when Terrell Davis was in the backfield.
"Obviously, it's going to be a little bit of an adjustment but you've got two, smart, bright offensive football minds that are competitive and wanting to win," Elway said.
The Broncos brought in free agent tackle Jake Long for a visit Thursday but decided against signing him, meaning they'll head into camp with one of the league's youngest O-lines.
"Youth is always a little bit scary because you never know how fast they're going to come along," Elway said, "but I think the one thing that I feel good about the group is the mentality that they have: they're bright, they're smart, they're tough, they want to be good."
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