Broncos’ Manning knows scrutiny getting started
The Denver Broncos broke camp Friday and Peyton Manning’s
excitement was muted.
The four-time MVP thought he’d be able to practice out of sight
now that seemingly every step – and throw – of his comeback has
been described, dissected and discussed over the last 3 1/2
No such luck.
The media are allowed to watch practice for two more weeks
before the regular season rules kick in, with all but the first few
”So, the analysis of practices will continue, and I’ll look
forward to that,” Manning cracked.
How Manning’s well-chronicled comeback goes is one of the
biggest story lines in the NFL this season. That, along with how
the Saints confront their bounty suspensions and how Tim Tebow,
Manning’s predecessor in Denver, handles the Big Apple.
Manning became the most prized free agent in NFL history when
the Indianapolis Colts released him in March after nerve issue
weakened his throwing arm and required neck fusion surgery in
September, forcing him to miss all of last season.
After a cameo appearance at Chicago last week, Manning makes his
home debut Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks at Sports
Authority Field, where more than 41,000 fans watched a scrimmage
two weeks ago.
Manning figures to play about three series.
He hasn’t lobbied coach John Fox or offensive coordinator Mike
McCoy for more playing time in the preseason because of his
recovery or rehab.
”It’s whatever Fox and Coach McCoy want to do,” Manning said.
”Those guys are watching practice every day, they’re watching the
film, they’re making evaluations as far as how much each guy needs
to play. So, I really leave that to them. When I’m in there, it’s
really important to try to do my job and get our offense down the
After the Bears game, Manning said he reflected on how far he’d
come to get back on the football field, but also on how far he has
to go with his new offense.
It’s hard to gauge the starters on a single series. Once the
regular season rolls around, it’s a four-quarter evaluation and
that opening drive is more about deciphering defenses, testing
targets, setting the tone.
In the preseason, there’s a pressure for immediate results,
especially when the starters only play one series.
Manning said that’s still going to be the case Saturday night
when the Broncos (No. 10 in the AP Pro32) host the Seahawks (No.
”Yeah, I don’t know if it’ll be a half. But it’s still not a
whole game, so I still think that it is a little bit more pressure
that you’re only in there for a certain amount of plays and you
want them all to go well,” Manning said. ”So, you still have that
feeling a little bit that you’re in there, you’ve got to have a
sense of urgency, you want to do your job well and hopefully we can
get a few more situations against Seattle and it’ll be a good test
going against their defense.”
Manning will get the bulk of his preseason preparation against
San Francisco next week, when he’ll play into the third
Manning didn’t come close to getting hit by Bears defenders
while facing a pass rush for the first time in 579 days. So, the
biggest question mark still hanging over him is whether he can take
a hit and bounce back up.
”It’s not hanging over me,” Manning retorted. ”It seems to be
a hot topic. I had a lady the other day who told me, `Everybody
can’t wait to see you get hit.’ Thank you. … I have played
football for a long time and when it happens, I plan on getting up
and hopefully completing a pass on the next play and moving the
chains and at some point hopefully you all can stop asking me that
Like his rehab, the scrutiny figures to last all season.
That’s why he was hoping to catch a break with the Broncos
”I thought (the end) of training camp means that you all
weren’t allowed to come out to practice but I hear that continues
for two weeks, so I have kind of controlled excitement here,”
Manning told reporters.
The rules state that for the remainder of the preseason, teams
either open up their practices or their locker rooms.
”I would have chosen the locker room,” Manning said.
The problem is there’s 90 players crammed in there already, and
some days it seems there’s that many members of the media, too.
Notes: Rookie RB Ronnie Hillman returned Friday from a pulled
right hamstring that he’d aggravated earlier in the week, but Fox
said he would be game-time decision, same as CB Tracy Porter
(illness). Asked if he liked what he saw out of Hillman, a
speedster from San Diego State who will serve as a change-of-pace
back to bruising starter Willis McGahee, Fox said, ”I’ve liked
him. Every time he’s been out there, he’s flashed.”
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and