Manning looks good heading into break before camp

What Tom Moore saw this week was oh, so familiar. Short or long,

the throws were potent and precise, smacking sternums with both

authority and a loud thwack.

Peyton Manning is most certainly back.

The Denver Broncos wrapped up their three-day minicamp that

capped their offseason work Thursday with another spirited practice

marked by precision and power from their new 36-year-old

quarterback.

On hand as a guest all week was Moore, Manning’s offensive

coordinator for all but one season when the two were in

Indianapolis.

”Watching these three days, he looked excellent to me,” said

Moore.

Manning has shown no ill effects of the nerve issue that caused

weakness in his throwing arm last year, required four neck

operations, forced him to miss the entire 2011 season and led to

his release from the Colts.

The biggest free agent in NFL history looks better and better

every day as he regains strength and adjusts to his new team.

”We don’t think about the injury anymore,” said receiver

Brandon Stokley, who played with Manning in Indianapolis. ”And I’m

not sure he does, either.”

The Broncos took a chance by signing the league’s only four-time

MVP to a five-year, $96 million deal in March, and with offseason

on-field work out of the way and training camp seven weeks away,

all indications are they’re getting the Peyton Manning of old.

Manning said he wishes he could have tripled the 13 offseason

practices they were allowed to hold, but he cherished the time

nonetheless.

Over the last two months, he’s shown both himself and John

Elway, who recruited him to this quarterback-crazed town, that he

still has plenty left in his right arm that has thrown for 54,828

yards and 399 touchdowns and hoisted a Super Bowl trophy.

Manning averaged 42 passes a game in his last full season, in

2010, but the Broncos don’t plan on having him air it out that

much. They’re meshing some of the power formations they used in

leading the league in rushing last year with some of the spread

formations that Manning was accustomed to running in

Indianapolis.

The reconstruction of both quarterback and offense appears to be

going very well, indeed. Manning has given the Broncos no reason to

hold back once training camp rolls around, offensive coordinator

Mike McCoy said.

”We’re going fullspeed ahead. We’re being aggressive with

everything we’re doing,” McCoy said. ”He’s fine. We have no

concerns right now. We’re not worrying about it. We’re moving

forward.”

With his arm strength not really an issue, the question facing

Manning is whether he can get his timing down with his new

targets.

”There’s lots of things that enter into it, obviously,

accuracy, anticipation, touch, arm strength, you know, it’s an

all-involved thing,” Moore said. ”He looks good. He looks

excellent.”

Manning is loath to declare himself injury-free, insisting he

has much work to do in his rehab just as he does in preparing for

the 2012 season.

”You don’t really expect him to say anything else,” Stokley

said. ”That’s just kind of his persona, it’s all about work every

day, trying to get better. No matter if he’s having one of his best

years ever as a quarterback. Even during his MVP years, he’s still

saying the same stuff: `Just trying to get better every day.”’

Moore said Manning’s well-known work ethic is what will push him

through this season.

”Nobody works harder than him,” Moore said. ”On anything.

Anything. I mean, his work habits are fantastic. He’ll be

successful his entire life at whatever he does. Because of his work

ethic and his dedication and his commitment to what he’s

doing.”

When he was asked this week whether the Broncos had the

potential to be as potent as the Colts were under his stewardship,

Manning demurred.

”I’m not doing the comparison game to the other offenses,” he

said. ”I think what we’re trying to do right now is form our

identity. And I don’t think that necessarily happens over 14

practices in May and June. I do think over training camp and into

the preseason, I think hopefully we’ll get a feel for the things

that we really do well.”

Even if Manning’s right arm isn’t 100 percent this season, his

mind is, Stokley said, noting that while ”he’s never had the

strongest arm,” nobody can decipher a defense and then pick it

apart like Manning.

Manning’s arrival has had its anticipated ripple effect on both

the offense and defense, and most of the six practices the media

were allowed to watch were crisp. If anything, Manning’s throws

were sometimes too strong, sailing over his receivers’ heads.

Stokley said Manning is the ultimate leader because everybody

around him gets better. He saw it in Indy and he’s witnessing it

now in Denver.

”Whatever he asks, guys will do, because they’ve seen what it

can lead to. It can lead to great things for teams and

individuals,” Stokley said. ”There’s no questioning him. It’s not

phony with him. You see it firsthand, how hard he works, how hard

he prepares.

”And it’s by far more and harder than anybody that’s ever

played this game. There’s no question in my mind that nobody else

has even come close to putting in the kind of effort and work that

he’s put into the NFL.”

NOTES: Moore, 73, who was a consultant with the Jets last year,

had his right knee replaced in the spring and will have his left

one fixed in August. ”So, next season I’d like to coach again,”

he said. ”I’ll be in good shape.”

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/arniestapleton