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What’s it like being Peyton Manning’s backup? Brock Osweiler explains

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(USA Today Sports Images)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Brock Osweiler goes to work every day and learns from a guy who might be the greatest of all-time at his job.

And that's incredible ... most of the time.

The worst part for Osweiler about the Broncos drafting him in the second round in 2012 is he plays behind perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time. He has 20 career passes in two seasons. Russell Wilson, the next quarterback off the board, has started two full seasons for the Seahawks and will face Manning, Osweiler and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Osweiler admits that he has thought about what would have happened if the Broncos would have drafted someone else like Wilson. He might have gotten a chance to start already.

But he'll consider it, look at the apprenticeship he's serving behind a future Hall of Famer, and he is convinced he is better off now than he would have been in any other situation.

"Without question, absolutely without question," Osweiler said. "The things you’re able to observe him do, especially on game day, are things you wouldn’t pick up elsewhere. Coming to Denver and watching him for two years, I’m certainly a better quarterback for it."

It's a race for Osweiler. Manning has said he wants to play next season, and the way he played this season it seems like he could keep going for many more years. So Osweiler can't know for sure when he'll get his shot. But on the flip side, Manning is 37 with a history of neck surgeries. Nobody knows if the end will come sooner than expected for Manning. So Osweiler treats his time with Manning with some urgency.

"I understand he’s not going to be around for every day of my career," Osweiler said. "I’m trying to observe him now, take notes and make the most of being around him every day."

It starts with the preparation. Manning is famous for it. Osweiler came in from Arizona State feeling he had pretty good work habits, and he probably did.

"Then you see how he does it, and you see you need to step up your game," Osweiler said.

Osweiler gets to the facility at 6 a.m. most days during the season, leaves at 5 p.m. and even when he's home, he is studying film on his iPad or reading the playbook until 8 or 9 p.m. That's how the great Peyton Manning does it, so he does the same.

"I’m sure it’s something I would have figured out, but it would have taken more time," Osweiler said about how much time he spends studying the playbook. "It’s a matter of learning how you need to dive into it. Being around him, you learn how much time needs to go into that very quickly."

Then there are the subtle things Osweiler has learned. He took note of how Manning conducted himself in a meeting. He watched how he handled himself in practice. He started wearing a suit to all games, because that's how Manning does it.

It's the type of amazing education not many quarterbacks get. Especially with so many the last few years expected to start immediately after being drafted. The Broncos have noticed how Osweiler has picked up the right habits.

"Brock opens up his notebook and is reviewing his notes on the way to media day (on Tuesday), where a lot of guys didn’t even have their notebooks with them," Broncos quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp said.

Another thing jumps out about Osweiler. He doesn't get a ton of media attention as a backup quarterback but handles it tremendously. He's just 23 years old but carries himself like a longtime starter in the NFL. Everything he does in his current role is going to be the right way. Maybe he would be that way with or without Manning, but it certainly hasn't hurt.

"The thing I’ve really taken away from him, that I’m very appreciative for, is how to be a professional," Osweiler said. "Because of that I’ve been able to grow up at a much quicker rate than I probably would have."

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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