ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Brock Osweiler knew exactly where he had to go Monday afternoon after practice, even without anyone to guide him in the right direction.
Case in point: the post-practice question-and-answer session with local media. Osweiler knew the phalanx of cameras and reporters gathered at UCHealth Training Center on Labor Day was primarily there to talk with him, and he knew that the briefing would take place on the practice field.
As the media began walking into the locker room, presumably to talk to other players, Osweiler bounded through the automatic sliding doors and was on his way out. He already knew exactly where to go and when to be there. He didn't need anyone to point the way.
That's what it's like when you come back to a place where you felt at home -- a place that you thought you might never see again, at least not this way.
"I don't think many people could have seen this situation taking place, but I will say I'm beyond excited that it did take place," Osweiler said. "This is home."
It was a home that he left for a chance that didn't pan out. He returned Monday with "no regret" about opting to join the Houston Texans in March 2016, which led to a frustrating season, a trade to the Cleveland Browns and, finally, the completion of the circle -- albeit one that now has him back behind his former understudy, Trevor Siemian.
"It's kind of like that old deal when you're a little kid and your mom tells you, 'Don't touch the hot stove,'" Osweiler said. "So what do you do as a curious kid? You touch the hot stove, and you learn how nice that stove is when it's not hot."
Monday, the only hot thing was the on-field temperature, which soared into the 90s not long after the Broncos' two-hour practice ended.
"It's hard to really describe it in words, but being back here today, practicing as a Bronco and being here -- it's probably a top-five, if not top-three, day of my life," he added. "Today's been incredible."
There was little time to savor the moment. He has a system to re-learn, and he must be ready to run it on a moment's notice.
Osweiler has a grasp on some tenets of the scheme from the first three years of his previous stint with the Broncos -- including the 2012 season under Mike McCoy, who was concluding his first term as Denver's offensive coordinator. But the system isn't exactly the same as the one Osweiler learned then; it has "a lot of new things," he said.
"We'll have a package for Brock if he has to go into a football game," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "It won't be the entire offense that we installed from the spring, but it would be Brock's package."
Eventually, he expects to grow more comfortable in the offense, but he knows the situation: He's with the team because Paxton Lynch is recovering from a sprained right shoulder. His status is about the present situation and the team's need, not the long term.
But that didn't give him pause about signing with the Broncos.
"I wasn't even worried about that," Osweiler said. "I was living in the moment. I've had some great experiences in the past 18 months and some not-so-great experiences that I've learned from.
"There were other offers and I basically told my agency, 'Listen, I love and respect you guys and I love what you guys do, but if there's an offer from Denver, I don't care if it's a dollar, that's where we're going.'"
Osweiler returns with 16 more starts -- including two in the postseason -- on his resume. He's a father now; he and his wife welcomed a daughter five months ago. His jersey number is the same, but so much else has changed, including most of his teammates; 28 of the 52 other players on the active roster were not with the team for Super Bowl 50, his last game in a Broncos uniform.
Someday, Osweiler believes he will be an NFL starter again. But not right now. He knows his role.
"I do see myself as a starter in the National Foothall League. I feel like I proved that back in 2015," he said. "However, in saying that, this is Trevor Siemian's team, and right now, my job is to be backup of this football team and do it to the best of my ability."
Osweiler knows his way around the building better than almost anyone could. That's a good first step.
Defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Jared Crick returned for Monday's practice after missing weeks while recovering from a sprained ankle and back spasms, respectively. (Photos by Gabriel Christus)