Even if Peyton Manning recovers from his foot injury, there's no guarantee he'll be back on the field for the Denver Broncos this season.
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reports Brock Osweiler will remain the Broncos' starting quarterback if he continues to play well over the next couple of weeks. Rapoport said during NFL GameDay Morning on Sunday that "it's not clear if [Manning] will actually return this season." The 8-2 Broncos will host the undefeated New England Patriots Sunday night in what promises to be Osweiler's toughest test as the Pats have the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL.
Manning, 39, is currently dealing with a torn plantar fascia in his foot in addition to lingering rib and shoulder injuries. Rapoport says Manning has declined surgery on his foot for now, which likely means he's intent on playing as soon as possible.
Osweiler started in Manning's place last week and completed 20 of 27 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos' 17-15 win over the Chicago Bears. He also didn't throw an interception, which is something Manning failed to do in his nine starts.
It's been a putrid season for Manning, who leads the league with 17 picks. Though he's signed through next season, it seems as if the Broncos are intent on seeing if Osweiler can be their franchise quarterback of the future. The 2012 second-round pick is a free agent at the end of the year and appears to be a better fit for head coach Gary Kubiak's offense than the aging Manning.
But even with that reality in mind, it will be difficult for the Broncos to cast Manning aside if he's healthy enough to return at some point this season. Just three weeks ago, Manning set the NFL's all-time passing yards record. He has more wins than any other quarterback in NFL history. Replacing one of the all-time greats against his will would promise to be a challenge, even if it's the right move to make.
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