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Now a backup, Manning vows to help Osweiler

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 13: Injured quarterback Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, left, has a word with quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 as players warm up before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 13, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

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Peyton Manning surely doesn’t want to be a backup, but that’s what he is. And he says he’ll be a good one.

Manning told reporters today that as the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback for Sunday’s season finale against the Chargers, he’ll do everything in his power to help starter Brock Osweiler lead the team to a win, which would clinch the AFC West and a first-round playoff bye.

“I will do what I can to help Brock and the team,” Manning said.

That’s all Manning could say, of course: It’s ultimately up to coach Gary Kubiak, not Manning, to decide who will start now that Manning is healthy enough to be active on game days. And Kubiak seems to have decided that at this stage in his career, Manning just isn’t as good a quarterback as Osweiler.

The question remains, however, what will happen if Osweiler struggles, either Sunday against the Chargers or in the playoffs: Will Kubiak have a quick hook and turn to Manning, to see if the future Hall of Famer has one last great performance left in him? Or is Kubiak completely committed to leaving Osweiler in the game, and Manning on the sideline?

We’ll only find out the answer to that question if Osweiler plays poorly. If Osweiler stays healthy and plays well, we may have seen the last of Peyton Manning as a starting quarterback.