In Denver, it was the most exciting training camp since John Elway retired, as Peyton Manning took the field for the first time as a Denver Bronco.
A record crowd of over 4,300 people gathered at the practice fields to watch the Broncos break camp. The fans reacted strongly to every move Manning made, and he even scrambled out of the pocket a bit, earning a reaction from one of the Broncos rookies.
Fellow rookie, quarterback Brock Osweiler, will have zero pressure to start unless the unthinkable happens and Manning gets injured. With Tim Tebow gone, Caleb Hanie and Osweiler will battle for the number two position, but Osweiler is in a perfect position to sit back and learn from one of the best to ever play the position. So far, Osweiler has his hands full.
“We have those sheets out there because we’re just trying to keep up with Peyton and just follow along,” Osweiler said. “But every day is a learning process for me. We have a very big playbook, and there’s a lot of detail that goes into that playbook. I’m just trying to master a few things each day, improve upon things, and not make the same mistake twice. If I can do that, I think I’ll be okay.”
“It’s almost a dream come true,” Osweiler added. “I’m at training camp with the Denver Broncos. It felt really good to be out there today.”
As always this time of year, the rookies are facing a little hazing, but it appears to be going both ways in Denver as some of the veterans are taking a few shots over the age gap. There is a 16 year gap between Manning (the oldest player on the roster) and the rookie Hillman, who is the youngest.
Hillman was six years old during Manning’s rookie season, and recalled playing the video game version of Manning as a kid. “All I (remember) is watching TV and watching all the coaches talking about how they can’t stop him,” Hillman said of his memories of Manning. “Playing with him on Madden, too, nobody would want to play (against) him because he was the best player on there.”
Manning was happy to poke fun at the age difference as well. “[Wide receiver Brandon] Stokley and I were talking, and it’s fun being around these guys who are 22 and 23,” Manning said. “It keeps you feeling young.”
“It’s humbling at times when they say they enjoy seeing you play on ESPN Classic; that’s not exactly what you want to hear.”
Willis McGahee is now on the wrong side of 30, which is typically a dangerous age for running backs, but he was also willing to take a few barbs about his age. Last season, he had his best year since 2007, rushing for 1,199 yards and averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
“I was just telling somebody, I played with James Jett my first year in Buffalo,” he said. “That’s a long time ago. We have fun with it. It makes me feel young again. I was telling somebody, all I wanted was to get to 10 years. Now I’m at 10, I want more. Keep on going until the wheels fall off, baby.”
Von Miller, now in his second season in Denver, wasn’t shy about riding McGahee on his age. McGahee said, “He’s like, ‘Man, I was in middle school when you were in college…’ I’m like, ‘Von, shut the…’”
But he won’t let the kidding stop him. On continuing to play into his 30s, McGahee said, “You have to want it. That’s what I do. I can’t worry about nothing else.”