ENGLEWOOD, COLO. — Peyton Manning begins his comeback this week. There's no telling whether it will lead him into the Denver Broncos' huddle.
Manning will suit up and throw outdoors Wednesday as he takes his first big step back from a torn plantar fascia in his left foot that has sidelined him since mid-November. It's unlikely, however, that he'll participate in practice.
"Yeah, I don't see that," coach Gary Kubiak said. "That could change. I could tell you on Wednesday that we decided to do some of that, but right now the thought is that we go into kind of a modified small workout personally with him and see where we can be each and every day."
Manning hasn't thrown outside since being picked off four times by the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 15, when he had his worst career performance on the same day he became the league's all-time career leader in passing yards.
The next day, Kubiak named Brock Osweiler the starter and the fourth-year pro has gone 3-0 since, leading the Broncos over Chicago, New England and San Diego to stay three games ahead of the Chiefs in the AFC West.
Kubiak has opened up his playbook with Osweiler under center, calling an assortment of bootlegs, effective run plays and play-action passes with the athletic and more mobile passer who's almost 15 years younger than Manning, 39.
He had to modify his system for Manning, putting him mostly in the pistol or shotgun, which made it difficult to run the ball — the Broncos averaged 86 yards a game with Manning at quarterback and are running for almost twice that — 161 yards — with Osweiler under center.
Manning, who set NFL records with 55 TD passes and 5,477 yards two years ago, had just nine TD throws and a league-high 17 interceptions when he was replaced by Osweiler, who's thrown five TD passes and three interceptions.
It's that ball-control offense that complements Denver's top-ranked defense, one that's No. 1 against the pass and tied for second against the run.
Osweiler will start again when the Broncos (10-2) host the Oakland Raiders (5-7) on Sunday.
Manning didn't make the trip to San Diego over the weekend but stayed behind to begin his rehab after removing his walking boot Friday.
Kubiak said Manning's workout Wednesday under the watch of strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson could occur while the rest of the team is in meetings.
Last week, Manning said he's done as much lifting as he could while his leg was immobilized, first in a walking cast for a week and then in a walking boot for a few days.
"He's been conditioning with Luke as best he can. Obviously, the running part has been off the (table)," Kubiak said. "As far as doing some other things, he's been doing a lot working out, lifting, a lot of upper body stuff trying to do all that he can to get some type of cardio involved. There's always a process to getting back on that field and running around."
He said Manning has already tested out his arm.
"He's been throwing a little bit inside through some rehab process stuff," Kubiak said. "But it's nothing like going out and throwing an out route or those types of things. We'll see."
Manning has said that doctors have told him there's no telling when he'll be able to play again because no one can say with any degree of certainty when the tear in the bottom of his foot will be healed.
That's why Kubiak feels no urgency to make any pronouncements that Osweiler is his quarterback for the remainder of the season as has been the subject of so much speculation.
In other injury news, safety David Bruton Jr. said Monday he has a bruised left knee and sprained medial and posterior collateral ligaments. Bruton was injured late in the fourth quarter of Denver's 17-3 win over the Chargers. He was starting in place of T.J. Ward, who missed the game with a sprained left ankle and is expected to sit out against the Raiders, too.
Several other players were injured in the game, including tight end Vernon Davis (concussion), linebacker Danny Trevathan (concussion), returner Omar Bolden (hamstring) and running back C.J. Anderson (ankle).
The Broncos hope to get back edge rusher DeMarcus Ware (back) and run-stuffer Sylvester Williams (ankle) this week.