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Early schedule complicates Broncos' plan to rest Peyton Manning

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Yes, the Denver Broncos still plan to rest Peyton Manning whenever they get the chance. They just won’t do it right away in the regular season.

With two games in five days – starting Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens and next Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs – the Broncos won’t find their intended rhythm with Manning's practice schedule, as well as some of the team’s other veteran players, until the season is a few weeks old.

Manning and most of the team’s other starters were dialed back in the final week of the preseason – none of the team’s regulars played in the preseason finale against the Arizona Cardinals – and the players were also given this past weekend off from any on-field work as the team’s administration went about the business of trimming the roster to 53 players.

“I think with the amount of rest we’ve had through Arizona week, the amount of rest I gave them through the weekend, that he’s very fresh," said Broncos coach Gary Kubiak. “And we’ve got a very short week next week. So, we’ll get on routine about Week 3 or 4."

It means the Broncos have every intention of keeping to their plan to keep Manning as rested as possible as deep into the season – and postseason, they hope. But that plan will have to wait. Kubiak has made it a priority to manage Manning’s workload, almost from the moment he accepted the job to be the Broncos’ coach.

Manning, and a select group of veteran players, were given some practices off during the OTAs, minicamps and training camp. Kubiak said Wednesday he believes he continues to see the benefits of the plan by the way Manning is throwing in the team’s practices this week.

There has been one adjustment, however. After not wearing a glove on his throwing hand in training camp or in his two appearances in preseason games, Manning has worn the glove in both Monday’s and Wednesday’s practices.

“I feel good about it. I think he’s fresh," Kubiak said. “He’s throwing the ball well, he’s very sharp mentally in what we’re trying to get done. I think the process has been good … right now he’s probably as fresh as he’s going to be."

Asked if “so much time off" had indeed helped him as the season approaches, Manning said with a smile:

“I don’t know if it was so much time off. I’m on board, I feel like I’ve always had a good attitude, team player, whatever they want to do, that’s what I’ll do."

Manning has been reluctant to take time off, even during practices, in the past and his desire to stay involved has resulted in things such as wearing his helmet in the training room to hear play calls on the practice field as he rehabbed an ankle injury in 2013. Manning also wore his helmet during the Broncos’ preseason finale earlier this month, a game he was not going to play, but he wanted to hear the play calls going into backup quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian.

“If it’s being out there and taking a period off, cutting down on certain reps, then that’s kind of part of the plan, then I’m all for that," Manning said. “The key for me is when I’m in there, I’m trying to take advantage of the reps. And even when you’re not in there, you’re communicating, you’re still talking, you’re participating in the walk-throughs."