Last year, Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak did what few have the courage to do — sit Peyton Manning. This isn’t referring to when Kubiak pulled Manning during the Kansas City Chiefs game on Nov. 15, but rather when Kubiak sat Manning every Wednesday during the season to protect him.

Manning – then an 18 year NFL veteran – treated every practice like it was his last and would be damned it someone tried to take a practice away from him. That hadn’t happened until last year when Kubiak joined the Broncos.

At nearly 40 years old, Manning’s body didn’t have much left in the tank and Kubiak knew that if he wanted Manning in January and February, he needed to force him to take days off during the year.

After this proved to be extremely successful, ending with a Lombardi Trophy at the end of last year, Kubiak has decided to take the same approach, this time with significantly more players.

On Wednesday, during day two of mandatory minicamps, about half of the starters were given the day off from practice.

“We sat some guys today. We sat about 10 guys,” said Kubiak.

All of the players that have the luxury of taking the day off were veteran players that have their starting roles set in stone. Chris Harris Jr., T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart, Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and Derek Wolfe were a few of the veterans to get the day off.

Kubiak confirmed that all of these players are healthy and that he has been giving all of them Wednesdays off.

“Everybody is fine,” said Kubiak. “I’ve had that rhythm the whole way. Just because we call these three days minicamp, you guys know that we’re operating no different than what we really do in OTAs. I think our schedule has been good. Our work has been good. I want to keep that same routine until we get through.”

While Kubiak understands that practices are important, he also understands that this is June and it isn’t worth it to push the impact players too much so early in the offseason.

Kubiak also sees another major advantage to giving veterans the day off — continuing to develop the younger players.

“We’ve continued to work our young guys a great deal,” said Kubiak. “I think they continue to make progress. The key to me is the guts of the team from young players getting better and helping us out. I think we made some progress.”

Although Mark Sanchez did not get the day off, and likely won’t take any days off in the near future due to the quarterback battle, it allowed him to develop a connection with some of the younger players, specifically Jordan Taylor.

Taylor, otherwise known as “Sunshine”, has received a fair amount of hype for only being on the practice squad last year. Taylor performed well in training camp last year and received a lot of praise from Manning during Manning’s rehab process last year.

On Wednesday, Sanchez connected with Taylor many times while working with the first team. Fellow wide receivers Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer also saw a lot of playing time during practice. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison echoed Kubiak’s message on how the veterans sitting helps the rookies.

“The more [reps] they can get, the better they can be,” said Dennison.

Even though this message is simple, the fact that the Broncos are spending so much time developing the younger players could have a significant impact on the depth of the team; a team’s depth in a long and brutal NFL season is always an important role in a team’s success.

Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett are excellent examples of younger players getting extra reps because of veteran players not practicing. With Von Miller and the Broncos still trying to work out a long-term extension and DeMarcus Ware sidelined from a back injury, both players have been getting ample amounts of playing time.

Ray and Barrett will most likely receive the majority of the first-team reps during the remainder of minicamp and OTAs, as DeMarcus Ware’s lingering back injury will keep him out until training camp.

“I think [Ware’s] very close in what he’s doing, but I don’t think it makes much sense [to bring him back in minicamps or OTAs],” said Kubiak. “What do we have here? Four days or something like that to really do that. We’ll get the entire summer to make sure he’s feeling good before we get back out there.”

Kubiak’s schedule to rest many starters throughout the year not only gives the veterans the needed time off so they are fresh all year long, but it also allows the younger players to strengthen the depth of the team. Both could be very impactful during another potential Super Bowl run.