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Jordan 'Sunshine' Taylor just might be Manning's good luck charm

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The practice squad receiver/free safety has become Peyton Manning's favorite pre-game warmup target since Manning returned from injury - and since the Broncos have been winning, Manning's stayed with his pre-game routine.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Taylor is possibly the most famous practice squad player in the NFL.

After Peyton Manning's comeback game against San Diego in Week 17, the quarterback gave a shoutout to the scout team wide receiver from Rice in his post-game interview on the sidelines.

Then the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback reminded the crowd to "remember that name."

Just in case anyone dared to forget, Manning pulled Taylor on the field the following week for some pre-game warmup passes - a ritual Manning had not participated in since coming to Denver. But No. 18 decided a little extra preparation after being out six weeks for injury couldn't hurt.

It proved to be a wise move as Manning came in for Brock Osweiler in the third quarter and led a comeback win over the AFC West foe to finish out the regular season.

So Manning decided to keep throwing to Taylor before each of the next three games. Two of those were playoff matchups; the third will be this weekend.

"I wanted to get back out to the stadium field and throw a little bit, so I grabbed Jordan," Manning said of the Chargers game.  "We won, so we did it versus Pittsburgh, versus New England and we'll be out there Super Bowl Sunday."

It's not often a practice squad player is taking reps from a future Hall-of-Famer, but Taylor (nicknamed "Sunshine" for his resemblance to a Remember the Titans character) had been earning that chance since Training Camp and even since college. The 6-foot-5 receiver caught 175 passes for 2,585 yards and 20 touchdowns in college after converting from quarterback to receiver at Rice University.

"Jordan had a great Training Camp, made a lot of plays," Manning recalled. "His size, his ability to go up and make high-point catches really stood out."

While No. 18 was anxiously working to get back on the field after an injury to his right foot, Manning called on the receiver once again.

"Jordan was great. I really have to commend him because he was running routes for me and then he was going out there to practice," Manning said, adding that he's bad about always calling for "just one more" play about 10 times. "He worked hard and was really helpful to me, and I really appreciate his efforts."

To show his gratitude, Manning bought the 23-year-old a suit, two shirts and two ties to make the trek to San Francisco.

"I don't think I could have gotten through my rehab and gotten back had it not been for him," Manning acknowledged. "I appreciate his help."

So now the most well-known practice squad player who just might be Manning's good luck charm, is also the best-dressed guy on the team.

"He worked hard and was really helpful to me, and I really appreciate his efforts," Manning said about his gesture. "I'm excited about his career. He's a tall, young receiver, and I really think he's got a bright future."