ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Peyton Manning didn't start 226 consecutive games through the first 14 years of career by letting something like a sprained ankle keep him on the sideline.
Nor will his current sprained ankle keep him out of Sunday's game against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs after an MRI on Monday revealed no further damage from a couple of low hits in Denver's 28-20 win against the San Diego Chargers.
Manning has been dealing with ankle pain for more than a month, but the MRI revealed that he only aggravated the same injury against the Chargers.
"He'll definitely play this week," interim head coach Jack Del Rio said Monday. "He's ready to roll, and that was great news."
The Broncos have requested the NFL review the hit that left Manning hobbled late in Sunday's game against the Chargers. San Diego defensive end Corey Liuget tackled Manning by the legs just after Manning delivered a pass to Demaryius Thomas.
Liuget appeared to be blocked into Manning by center Manny Ramirez. Liuget was not flagged on the play.
"Thought it was questionable," Del Rio said.
The so-called Tom Brady Rule protects quarterbacks in the pocket from hits to their lower legs. Brady missed the 2009 season with a torn ACL after being hit low by Bernard Pollard.
"I mean, it's a rule," Del Rio said. "There are certain areas you can hit and certain areas that are supposed to be protected. We thought that was one that got into that area that should be protected so we turned it in. We'll see what the response is."
When Manning takes his first snap at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, his new streak of consecutive starts (including the postseason) will stretch to 27 — all with the Broncos after sitting out the 2011 season in Indianapolis while recovering from a series of neck surgeries. Manning's streak of 208 regular-season starts for the Colts, where he also started 18 postseason games, was the second-longest streak for a quarterback in NFL history, behind only Brett Favre.
"I mean, that's pretty dang impressive," Denver tight end Jacob Tamme told USA TODAY Sports. "The neck injury he had took away the streak, but it doesn't take away how incredible it was up until that point, and how all the things he's played through the past and the present."
And yet tough isn't a word normally associated with Manning. In the 18 months they've been teammates, backup quarterback Brock Osweiler has learned there is plenty of physical work that goes into keeping Manning on the field. In 2012, it meant hours in the training room and weight room as Manning continued to rehab from neck surgery. Now it's the medical treatment and patience required to try to shake the nagging ankle injury.
"He's one tough dude back there playing quarterback," Osweiler told USA TODAY Sports. "Those shots that you take on Sundays, those weigh on you, take 3-4-5-6 days till you feel better again. There's a lot of time in the training room, a lot of time in the cold tub, hot tubs, massages. A lot of work goes into being ready to go. The things Peyton has gone through the last couple of weeks, very commendable."
If Manning does sit out some snaps, if not an entire practice, out, Osweiler will take over with the No. 1 offense, just like he did when Manning missed a Wednesday practice before Denver's game against Washington. That was the first, and still the only, session Manning has missed since signing with Denver.
Osweiler, a second-round pick in 2012, was standing, helmet on, at the edge of the field late in Sunday's game ready to relive an ailing Manning. But Manning remained in for the final four snaps – two hand-offs, and two kneel-downs. Osweiler played briefly in mop-up duty at the end of five games last year as a rookie, and played the fourth-quarter of Denver's blowout win against Philadelphia in September.
"There will come a time when I get thrown in the fire, and then I'll learn a lot, hopefully," Osweiler said. "Shoot, I'm confident, whether my number gets called this year, next year, the playoffs, whatever – I'm very confident in my abilities, and I hope my teammates and coaches are as well."