ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – 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, Moore said.
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 full speed 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.
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.