Not long after Peyton Manning joined the AFC West, his former teammate Philip Wheeler followed him there. The former Colts linebacker practiced against the new Broncos' QB every week for the first three seasons of his career. The knowledge that he picked up during that time will come in handy both for him personally as well as the Raiders as a team.
"He's going to be in a different situation than he was." Said Wheeler. "I just know from practice and going against me, he helped me playing against the best quarterback in the league. I know how to step my game up because of that."
But cracking one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history will not be that simple. If it were, it would have happened long ago. Wheeler is well aware of what he and his Raider teammates are up against.
"As far as knowing what he's going to do, he's always unpredictable. That's why he was so good. You don't know where he is going with the ball. You know what type of play he runs but you don't know when he's going to run it."
Figuring out where Manning will go with the ball is part of the problem. His ability to find the open man, even when he may not really be open, is another issue. The Raiders are, however, the only AFC West team to sign a former Colt defender this offseason. The Chiefs signed Colts linebacker Caleb Campbell last offseason as well.
As Wheeler will attest, that puts them at an advantage over those teams who will face Peyton without any recent insider info on the All Pro quarterback.
"I feel like I'm better just from going up against him in practice every day and I'll be prepared to face any quarterback like that. I think I can help the team do that."