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Looming Manning milestone a topic everywhere ... but the locker room

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --If you'd like to find an oasis free of chatter about the potential of Peyton Manning breaking Brett Favre's NFL record of 508 touchdown passes, meander into the Broncos locker room.

Just don't go when it's open to media for 45 minutes on four days each week. That's when "509" becomes more than just the area code used in Spokane, Wash.

"Probably the only time I talk about it is when you guys (the media) ask," said tight end Julius Thomas. "It's not something we talk about as an offense. Peyton doesn't talk about it, so we just keep playing football."

And when the laptop-and-mic set is away and the focus returns to the job at hand, the buzz recedes.

"It's kind of one of those things where it's a real special moment, but it's not something we sit around in here and talk about," said tight end Jacob Tamme. "Wednesdays are really busy as it is, trying to get ready to win the game."

But when the subject arises, minds wander and wonder, "Who will catch No. 509?" Will it be Thomas, who leads the league in touchdowns this season and more scores through five games than any tight end in league history?

"Julius will probably get it," predicted cornerback Chris Harris Jr. "If I'm going to [predict] anybody, it's going to be him or D.T. (Demaryius Thomas)."

Or could it be Wes Welker, working from the slot? Or Emmanuel Sanders, whose gaudy start to the season is missing just one thing: his first Broncos touchdown? Or a running back, or longtime teammate Jacob Tamme, or someone else?

Peyton Manning recorded a big milestone in the first quarter against the Cardinals with his 500th career passing touchdown on a pass to Julius Thomas.

"I haven't thought about it until y'all started asking me," said Tamme, "but now that I'm thinking about it, it's really cool!"

If the impending milestone led to players jockeying for a chance to be on the receiving end of the historic pass, it would be a distraction. But aside from answering a few questions, that is not the case.

"I don't feel like it's been a distraction because we've handled it and focused on what's important," said Manning.

Nevertheless, the queries are understandable. Favre's record is one of the league's most hallowed. With three more touchdown passes -- which is right on the pace he has set the last two seasons -- Manning will have the first of what could be multiple league records, depending on how many years he plays.

"It just speaks to the work ethic and the attention to detail he's had his entire career," Julius Thomas said.

But those are topics for another week. In Week 7, with 4-2 San Francisco lurking, there is more than enough to keep the Broncos occupied.

There is a number on their minds. But it's 49, not 509.

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