Just because the Broncos kept three quarterbacks doesn't mean they plan to use them all on game days.
"We'll probably only have two quarterbacks that are active on the 46 (roster) going into Sunday's game," Broncos executive vice president John Elway told approximately 7,500 fans on a conference call Tuesday.
Currently, Caleb Hanie is listed as the No. 2 quarterback behind Peyton Manning, with rookie Brock Osweiler as the third quarterback. But if the Broncos activate only one of the two understudies, they could be in a conundrum.
Hanie is the only backup to run the first-team offense aside from Manning, having guided it to a second-quarter touchdown in the third preseason game against San Francisco on Aug. 26. However, Osweiler possesses the stronger arm, and it could be used if the Broncos are in a situation calling for a "Hail Mary" at the end of a half, given that Manning's arm strength is not yet what it was prior to his four neck surgeries.
The league changed its rules regarding the 46th active player last year. Prior to 2011, teams were permitted 45 active players plus a No. 3 quarterback -- but if the No. 3 quarterback were used in the first three quarters, the other two passers could not return the game. The rules change permitted the No. 3 quarterback to play anytime -- but also stipulated that the 46th player didn't necessarily have to be a third quarterback.
The Broncos might find that the 46th spot is better used on a fourth running back or an extra linebacker than a quarterback.