Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning will return, but when will he play?

Is Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning close to returning to game form? He is expected back at practice Wednesday, but when is he expected to play again, if at all?

Well, it seems as though Peyton Manning is nearing a return to game form, despite my early pessimism that he would return to the field at all in 2015, perhaps ever again…

This has been Brock Osweiler’s team for a month, and he’s done an admirable job, leading the team to a 3-1 record and performing his absolute best in the 4th quarter of a home game against the New England Patriots, a game the Broncos and every fan will not soon forget.

Osweiler has developed a strong backing from the fans and presumably from the players and coaches alike, raising questions to whether or not Peyton Manning would actually even play if or when he came back from injury anyway. My initial thoughts on the situation were that the job was Brock’s to lose, but now that the Broncos know they have a guy they could feasibly re-sign at the end of this season and keep as their QB of the future with some legitimate ground to stand on, could Manning’s return spell the end of Osweiler’s 2015 barring another injury to the future Hall of Famer?

I think it just might.

I’m not saying I want Osweiler back on the pine, rather that I think Manning’s health will likely leave the Broncos with a decision to make, and after an embarrassing 2nd half offensive output against the Raiders, Osweiler’s leash might be a little bit shorter than the brass in Denver is willing to give him, and I don’t just mean the coaching staff.

Right or wrong, a decision to put Osweiler back on the bench would leave a lot of fans bitter and likely harping every single poor throw Manning would make from there on out. We all know Manning can’t make certain throws he used to be able to make, even with his pre-snap prowess. We all know Manning is incapable of making plays with his feet that Osweiler has proven capable of making.

We all know that Manning is a bit brittle, and that’s scary going into a playoff run, but the Broncos have to seriously ask themselves if they want to have Manning or Osweiler down the stretch with the top ranked defense in the league, and perhaps they would feel like a fully healthy Manning is the better option in terms of getting to or even winning a Super Bowl.

Just maybe.

I don’t know what the exact fallout of this all will be, but my initial projection that Manning would return healthy and ride the pine seems to be waning in probability. I think the Broncos are planning perhaps to have Manning ready even by the Cincinnati game on Monday Night Football as one of two final tune-up games before the postseason officially begins, where they will hedge all their bets on the guy who currently leads the NFL in interceptions despite missing an entire month of play.

It doesn’t help me sleep better at night, but after seeing the 12 point performance against the Raiders, it got me thinking. Could it be Manning’s team again down the stretch?

It just might.