Brock Osweiler is a marked man.
“We know he left us, it is what it is,’’ said Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. “I’m pretty sure he wants to win. We want to beat him bad. Get a lot of interceptions.’’
Osweiler was the Broncos’ clipboard holding backup quarterback to Peyton Manning the previous 3 ½ season before the former second-round draft pick out of Arizona State finally got his chance in the final seven games of last season.
Those seven games went well, took, as Osweiler won five of seven games, including huge home, overtime victories against New England and Cincinnati, the Broncos’ top two contenders for the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed.
But instead of re-signing with the Broncos three days after Manning retired on March 7, Osweiler decided instead to become a Houston Texan.
The Broncos play Houston on Monday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Osweiler decided to sign the Texans instead of the Broncos for many reasons, but four of the biggest: One, Houston offered a richer contract at four years for $72 million; two, the Texans didn’t bench him in the postseason last season; three, he preferred Bill O’Brien’s offensive system than that of Gary Kubiak; and four, he thought he had a better chance to win there than here.
Point four is the rub at UCHealth Training Center.
“I don’t think anybody in this locker room cares that he left,’’ said Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall. “I think everybody’s happy – when you’re a player in this league, you’re happy when another player gets his money, when he gets what he’s due. So everybody in this locker room, nobody has any ill-will towards Brock.
“At the same time, it’s competition and we want to shut him down. Just because it’s Brock. We know Brock. He came from here and we just want to kill him. That’s what we want to do.’’
So what does the Denver defense know they’re facing this week when they’re facing Osweiler?
“We know Brock likes to hold the ball so we feel like we can get a lot of good pressure on him, man,’’ Marshall said. “Just watching their offense I think this is going to be a great week for us.’’
There is the pass rush up front. And there is the coverage in back.
“He’s a gunslinger right now,’’ Harris said. “He’s throwing the ball a lot. He’s throwing the ball everywhere and he’s also forcing a lot of throws so there’s a lot of opportunities to get picks.’’
Normally in the days leading up to the next game, the Broncos talk about their opponent in glowing terms, as if they’re one step away from the Super Bowl.
That the Broncos aren’t holding back in their candor towards Osweiler’s hints at some underlying resentment. At least there was until they realized they may be better off with Trevor Siemian and first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch at a combined $2.95 million a year average than Osweiler at $18 million per.
“Of course, everybody was upset at first,’’ Harris said. “But right now what we’ve seen with Trevor everybody’s kind of forgotten about it. At first we were definitely mad but we’re starting to like Trevor and Paxton so we got over it pretty fast.’’