JERSEY CITY - The countdown to Super Bowl XLVIII for Broncos cornerback Marquice Cole is similar to the wait near the first tee at the U.S. Open for the first alternate. If anyone in Denver's secondary runs into a problem that would prevent him from playing against Seattle, Cole is next man up, which would be an amazing turn of events for a free agent signed on Jan. 14.
Everyone in the Broncos' secondary has practiced all week, but Cole is just an ankle sprain away from being activated.
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"You never know," said Cole, a seven-year veteran who spent the past two seasons with New England after three seasons with the Jets. "All that stuff isn't etched in stone. I'm working hard and still learning and trying to get better to be prepared for the game."
Cole said his new Broncos teammates immediately welcomed him into the fold and have done a good job of helping him get up to speed in a hurry. "My whole career has been to adapt on the [fly]," Cole said. "It's nothing new to me. You've always got to be prepared for a situation like this.
"Being in New England all year and then that not working out, I wasn't going to shut it down. I still wanted to play, so I stayed ready and got the call."
Skeptics figured the Broncos signed Cole to pick his brain about the Patriots' defense, but he said that wasn't the case. "What could I possibly tell Peyton Manning that he wouldn't know about their defense?" Cole said.
After going on and off the Patriots' roster all season, Cole is just happy that he'll end his year with a Super Bowl team. And because the game is at MetLife Stadium, it gave him a chance to visit with good friend Kyle Wilson of the Jets as well as with some of his former Patriots teammates who are in New York for the game.
The best part for Cole is that he's on Manning's team this time.
Cole was with the Jets in two straight AFC Championship Game losses, and he can't forget how Manning led a Colts comeback from a 17-6 deficit to a 30-17 win after the 2009 season. The Jets took that 11-point lead with 2:11 left in the first half, and 58 seconds later, it was a 17-13 game going to halftime.
"It was unreal," Cole said of Manning. "He made some adjustments before the end of the first half and came out on fire. That's the type of player he is. He came out and did his thing . . . Being on a team with Peyton Manning now is a huge thing. You know he gives you a great chance of winning the game."