DENVER — The Denver Broncos had their final practice Friday before meeting the New England Patriots on Sunday.
A critical part of preparing for the AFC Championship is the conversations between players. When Peyton Manning talks, players listen.
Wes Welker gets the same respect. Like Manning, Welker has two Super Bowl appearances on his resume.
As hard as the players have been working this week game planning for the Patriots, the discussion off the field is a critical part of the strategy.
“If the younger players don’t have anything to look forward to, then they’re going to be lost,” Welker said Friday. “They’re going to be lost souls, probably out of the league in a few years. But if you’ve got guys like a Wes Welker or a Shaun Phillips or Champ Bailey around the locker room, those guys can see the way that you’re supposed to do it.”
Which is why the veterans like to share their experiences, their failures, their success. Only eight players on the Broncos roster have played in a conference championship game.
“The opportunities of getting to this situation are so rare that you’ve got to seize that moment and take advantage of it,” Welker said.
The younger players are buying in.
“I try to pick the brains of all the veterans. Even the ones that haven’t been there, because they know how precious it is,” said Omar Boldin.
Second year linebacker Danny Trevathan added, “Playing this game, you want to take as much away from it as you can. You never know how long you’re here, so you have to make the most of whatever.”
Nobody understands that better than Peyton Manning. Even the 16-year veteran has a Broncos resource — John Elway.
“You’d be crazy not to ask a guy that some questions,” Manning said.
Becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Manning started asking questions early.
“Just like when I was growing up, my dad wasn’t my coach, but when you want to be a quarterback in this league, you use all the resources around you,” Manning said.
There’s no doubt Manning is a huge resource for the Broncos. The young guys know how valuable this time is.
“They listen. That’s the one thing I like about our young guys. They don’t think they know it all,” said Champ Bailey. “We’ve got a great group of young guys, and to be honest with you, we’re only going to go as far as they take us. They’re very important to us in what we do, so they definitely take all they can take in.”