After sitting out the first game of the preseason to stay fresh, Peyton Manning made his 2015 debut Saturday night in the Broncos' 14-10 win over the Texans in NRG Stadium.
Manning saw action in four series in the first and part of the second quarter, before he was pulled from the remainder of the game.
On the night, Manning went 8-for-14 for 52 yards. While his results weren't what he may have wanted, he saw the preseason game for what it needed to be: an opportunity for the offense to put their efforts on the practice field into action.
"Sure, you'd like to score four touchdowns in four possessions, but we did some no-huddle, which is something that we've been working on in this offense throughout training camp," Manning said. "I thought we executed that pretty well as far as communication – a lot of guys doing it for the first time and it was certainly a different offense. So that was a good thing.
Second half photos of the Broncos 14-10 victory over the Texans in Houston.
"There were no real communication errors. Obviously the execution can always be better. We had some self-inflicted wounds that kind of kept us from getting into a rhythm and continuing some drives so we'll see some good things from the film and see some things that we can certainly improve on – all of us."
While many veterans made their debut Saturday night alongside Manning, one in particular stood out. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas notably returned to the field after missing offseason training activities and minicamp this season. With a gradual increase in his workload since the start of camp, Thomas is working his way to full form for the regular season.
"[We're] trying to get him the ball and get him going," Manning said. "I think the more he can touch the ball, obviously with him missing minicamp, so that's important. [It's] good to get him some catches and like all of us we're all trying to improve and get ready for that regular season."
Another aspect that Manning continues to see improvement in is the offensive line – a group that is bolstered by three young players with little playing experience in the NFL.
"I thought they did a good job," Manning said. "We did some no-huddle things and communication on the road for a lot of first time starters, I thought those guys were poised out there. I thought the protection was good the whole time that I was in there."
The Broncos' scoring efforts came after Manning's bow in the second quarter. With 7:21 remaining in the second frame, back-up quarterback Brock Osweiler found wide receiver Andre Caldwell for a 57-yard touchdown reception to put the Broncos up 7-0.
Houston responded with a field goal and pick-six to put them back on top. But with less than two minutes remaining in the game, rookie quarterback Trevor Siemian orchestrated a 92-yard drive that concluded with a toss to wide receiver Corbin Louks from 26 yards out to punch in the go-ahead touchdown.
"I was really proud of Trevor making that last drive and throw and Corbin coming down with that ball," Manning said. "It's always good to see that because all those young guys worked real hard all through training camp. We broke training camp on Thursday and to make it through a training camp in the NFL is not easy. Everybody on this roster right now has really done a good job.
"The longer you play, the more you appreciate young guys and trying to earn a spot on the team. A lot of guys fighting for jobs out there tonight so that's good to see and really good to see those guys make a couple plays to help us win the game."