Get to know Broncos' Super Bowl starters

Manning: It's important to stick with what got you here

Get to know Broncos' Super Bowl starters
January 30, 2014, 10:15 am
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Wes Welker (left) and Julius Thomas (right) caught a combined 138 passes and 22 touchdowns from Peyton Manning in 2013. (AP)

Projected starters and key players for the Broncos in Sunday's Super Bowl:

Peyton Manning, QB (18), 6-5, 230, 16th season, Tennessee:
One of the all-time greats, will play in third Super Bowl ... Won 2006 NFL title with Indianapolis, lost in 2009 season ... Ironman streak of starting every game (227) from 1998-2010 ended in `11 after neck surgeries sidelined him for year ... Joined Broncos as free agent and has gone 28-7 with them ... Shattered NFL marks with 55 TD passes and 5,477 yards ... First overall draft choice in 1998.

[RELATED: Where would 49ers be if Manning, not Kaepernick, was their QB?]

Knowshon Moreno, RB (27), 5-11, 220, 5th season, Georgia:
First-rounder in 2009 whose career seemed to be waning until Manning arrived ... Rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 TDs this season ... Can gain yardage inside or out, and picks up blitzers well ... Also caught 60 balls and scored three times ... Has become a producer in the clutch.

Montee Ball, RB (28), 5-10, 215, 1st season, Wisconsin:
Second-round choice after record-setting NCAA career ... If he protects the ball, he can be dynamic ... Had 559 yards rushing, 20 receptions, scored four times ... Broncos like to avoid overworking Moreno and Ball is the ace reliever.

Demaryius Thomas, WR (88), 6-3, 229, 4th season, Georgia Tech:
Big target with smooth running style who can make some spectacular catches ... Manning's main guy among many receivers, Thomas has 92 catches, 1,430 yards and 14 TDs ... Will be interesting confrontation for him with Seahawks DBs who believe they can handle anyone in man coverage.

[RELATED: Players prepare for all weather possibilities for Super Bowl]

Eric Decker, WR (87), 6-3, 214, 4th season, Minnesota:
Another versatile, smart route-runner who has meshed well with Manning ... Made 87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 scores ... Deceptively quick, though won't win foot races with DBs ... Decker combined with Demaryius Thomas for the most prolific receiving tandem (2,718 yards) in the league.

Wes Welker, WR (83), 5-9, 185, 10th season, Texas Tech:
Was just slightly less productive with Manning as he was in New England with Tom Brady ... Signed before season as free agent, worked mostly out of slot to gain 778 yards on 73 catches and score 10 times ... Undrafted out of college, played for San Diego and Miami before joining Patriots.

[RELATED: NY-NJ security tight in Super Bowl run-up]

Julius Thomas, TE (80), 6-5, 250, 3rd season, Portland State:
A breakout player, thanks greatly to Manning ... Went from obscure to star with 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 TDs ... Excellent target in red zone, also can break tackles for long gains ... Former college basketball player.

Chris Clark, LT (75), 6-5, 305, 5th season, Southern Mississippi:
First season as full-time starter ... Not drafted, spend time on several practice squads ... Replaced star tackle Ryan Clady (foot), made 14 starts.

Zane Beadles, LG (68), 6-4, 305, 4th season, Utah:
Second-rounder in 2010 who has started all but two of 64 games ... Very solid, Moreno gains lots of yards behind his blocks.

Manny Ramirez, C (66), 6-3, 320, 7th season, Texas Tech:
Stepped in when injuries depleted position, first time snapping for full season since high school ... Helped Broncos yield league-low 17 sacks ... Manning calls him "awesome."

Louis Vasquez, RG (65), 6-5, 335, 5th season, Texas Tech:
All-Pro this season after joining Broncos as free agent ... Equally skilled at run blocking and pass protection ... Best blocker on a terrific line.

Orlando Franklin, RT (74), 6-7, 320, 3rd season, Miami, Fla.:
Massive second-round pick in 2011 who has held down job since being drafted ... Tough to see around, let alone get around into backfield ... Allowed only 3 1-2 sacks in 2012, fewest for position.

Malik Jackson, DE (97), 6-5, 293, 2nd season, Tennessee:
Fifth-rounder in 2012, had 42 tackles in five starts and impressive six sacks ... Has nice burst off the snap, but is not consistent yet ... Also played at Southern Cal before going to Tennessee.

Sylvester Williams, DT (92), 6-2, 313, 1st season, North Carolina:
First-round choice last April who earned more playing time late in regular season ... Benefits from Terrance Knighton being so active next to him ... Must show he can penetrate Seattle's solid inside blockers.

Terrance Knighton, DT (94), 6-3, 335, 5th season, Temple:
An under-the-radar force who has had a terrific postseason ... A rare NFL regular from Temple, Knighton was signed away from Jacksonville as free agent ... Has 31 tackles and three sacks.

Shaun Phillips, DE (90), 6-3, 255, 10th season, Purdue:
Signed away from division rival San Diego as free agent ... Uses moves and smarts to get into backfield, made 10 sacks this season ... Has 79 1-2 sacks for career ... Should be Seattle's primary concern in protection.

Robert Ayers, DE (91), 6-3, 274, 5th season, Tennessee:
Spotty player who has come on recently ... First-round pick in 2009 who never has lived up to billing ... Had 5 1-2 sacks, but only one in final 11 regular-season games.

Nate Irving, OLB (56), 6-1, 245, 3rd season, North Carolina State:
Third-rounder in 2011 has been in and out of lineup ... With star LB Von Miller suspended or hurt, Irving got more playing time ... Seattle will go after him.

Wesley Woodyard, MLB (52), 6-0, 233, 6th season, Kentucky:
Truly broke out in 2012 with 117 tackles, 5 1-2 sacks ... Had another solid season in 2013, but missed two games (neck) ... Made his mark with excellent special teams work.

Danny Trevathan, OLB (59), 6-1, 240, 2nd season, Kentucky:
By far the best defender in Denver this season ... Active, aggressive, versatile ... Sixth-rounder who went from no starts to 16, made 129 tackles, had three picks, and was inspiration to teammates.

Champ Bailey, CB (24), 6-0, 192, 15th season, Georgia:
Getting Bailey to Super Bowl for first time was a rallying cry for defense ... Not nearly the All-Pro defender he once was, but has had solid playoffs ... Has 52 career interceptions, tops among active players.

[RELATED: Champ Bailey finally gets title shot]

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB (45), 6-2, 193, 6th season, Tennessee State:
Signed away from Philadelphia as free agent ... Wound up as team's top cornerback after injuries or so-so play by others ... Broke up team-high 15 passes this season ... Also played for Arizona.

Tony Carter, CB (32), 5-9, 175, 5th season, Florida State:
Journeyman who had minor role this season, but has played important minutes in playoffs ... Has only started three games in career ... Seattle will try to get him matched up with Baldwin or Tate.

Duke Ihenacho, S (33), 6-1, 207, 2nd season, San Jose State:
Undrafted free agent who has made his mark after being on practice squad for part of 2012 ... Hits hard, not so great in coverage, but not a real liability ... Had 73 tackles in 2013.

Mike Adams, S (20), 5-11, 200, 10th season, Delaware:
Another journeyman who has plugged a hole in secondary ... Also has played for San Francisco and Cleveland ... Has nine career fumble recoveries.

Matt Prater, PK (5), 5-10, 195, 7th season, Central Florida:
Set NFL record with 64-yard field goal this season ... Won't be bothered by playing outdoors in Super Bowl in cold weather ... Very strong leg, had 81 touchbacks on 114 kickoffs ... Missed only one FG, from 52 yards.

Britton Colquitt, P (4), 6-3, 205, 5th season, Tennessee:
With Denver's offense clicking, Colquitt has punted just once in playoffs ... Member of kicking family, brother Dustin is with Chiefs, father Craig Colquitt and uncle Jimmy also were NFL punters.

Trindon Holliday, PR-KR (11), 5-5, 170, 4th season, LSU:
Had all kinds of breakaway potential, and also can drop the ball ... Had 81-yard punt return and 105-yard kickoff runback for TDs this season ... NFL's shortest player.