DENVER – Caleb Hanie and Joel Dreessen only connected for part of a season during their stints at Colorado State, after Hanie became the Rams’ starting quarterback late in 2004. But their shared alma mater and joint arrival as accompanying players in the Peyton Manning Orchestra will connect them for as long as they remain Broncos.
They’ve already learned the first lesson in harmonious participation in the Manning-conducted offense from their previous stints: work hard and pay attention.
“I literally leave no stone unturned in regards to my preparation,” said Dreessen, who credits his work ethic to the year he spent out of the NFL (2006). “I’m there early, I’m going to stay late — I learned that. I take none of it for granted and it’s damn important to me.”
“I’m just going to listen,” said Hanie, who backed up Jay Cutler the last three seasons in Chicago. “Pretty much (that) is what my job is going to be.”
If the Broncos’ season goes as planned, Dreessen will be vastly more involved with their outcomes than Hanie. Dreessen might start at tight end; at minimum, he will share playing time with Friday signee Jacob Tamme and 2011 fourth-round pick Julius Thomas. That is expected to be the season-opening triumvirate as Virgil Green misses the first four games because of a league suspension.
“What was communicated to me is that I’m more of a complete tight end than what they have on the roster. I can block; I can catch,” Dreessen said. “Basically, what was communicated to me is that they needed a player like me on the roster. How it all plays out, how I’m utilized is yet to be determined.”
The Broncos hope Hanie only stands and listen whilst Manning takes every practice repetition possible, as is his custom. It’s nothing against the backup quarterback — just that if the Broncos lose Manning to injury, they would be forced to turn to turn to a quarterback still looking for his first NFL win as a starter (although he would have surely earned one in Week 12 last year at Denver if Marion Barber III had not traipsed out of bounds along the west sideline).
Hanie is the second-string quarterback at this point, but to further his professional development, he’d like to be the first-string note-taker.
“Whatever (Manning) says, I’m going to take it in fully and write everything down that I can and just learn from him and learn how to prepare the way he does and try to see things the way he does,” Hanie said.
“I’m not going to try to be Peyton Manning, but I’m going to be hopefully a better version of myself in the way I prepare and the way I do things on the football field. My main job is to help him get ready and at the same time get myself ready to go in if need be.”
Neither has learned much about the offense yet, beyond what they know from watching the Manning-led offense from afar.
“Not a whole lot. We were basically talking terminology in formations and the running game,” said Dreessen. “With the new CBA rules, they (the Broncos coaches) weren’t able to talk too much. Just generic terminology things.”
They’ll expand on it soon, and if Dreessen and Hanie are to help Denver’s offense make beautiful music, they’d better bring their pens and notepads.