By Larry Fine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Denver Broncos were a two-quarterback team in becoming the AFC top seeds in the playoffs on the way to the Super Bowl, and Brock Osweiler is now again waiting in the wings behind Peyton Manning.
The 6-foot-7 (2.01 m) Osweiler stood tall and proved himself when called upon to take over from the 39-year-old Manning in midseason when the future Hall of Famer was sidelined by a foot injury.
Osweiler, who had thrown only 30 passes in three previous seasons with Denver after being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, showed he was the future of the Broncos by winning five of seven starts and showing off a powerful arm.
"Both quarterbacks played great for us this year," Broncos general manager John Elway said. "We wouldn't be here without Brock and we wouldn't be here without Peyton.
"It's been a great combination of both."
With Manning back in charge, the 25-year-old Osweiler has assumed the chore of preparing the Denver defense by running a facsimile of the Cam Newton-led Panthers' attack at practice.
"It is extremely difficult. Cam Newton is one of the best players in the National Football League and he is one of those guys that I don't think you can simulate," Osweiler said.
"But at the same time, I am very prideful in giving our defense a great look on the scout team. I have done my absolute best to give those guys a great look over the past couple weeks."
Throwing for 11 touchdowns against six interceptions and displaying cool confidence on the field, Osweiler put himself in position to take over from his mentor Manning.
Osweiler said he could not enumerate all he had learned from Manning.
"What haven't I learned is probably the easier way to say it," he said. "Peyton is the ultimate team mate and the ultimate quarterback.
"Over the course of the past four years, my eyes and ears have been locked on him."
The future could come soon for Osweiler amid widespread speculation that Manning will retire after the season.
"I was very fortunate in my seven starts to get game experience out there with the live bullets and being in the fire," said Osweiler.
"I'm certainly very comfortable and very confident in my abilities to be able to lead a football team and to be a starter week in and week out."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)