ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —
Manning may be as precise as ever, but he’s certainly not as polished as he’d like to be in his first season with the Broncos following his departure from Indianapolis. He continues to rehab after his throwing arm was weakened by a nerve injury in his neck that sidelined him all of last season.
“I really feel like I am a different quarterback,” said the four-time MVP, who might very well be on his way to a fifth. “I don’t think I’m trying to be the quarterback I was when I was 28, 29. I’m 36 years old, I’m coming off a season off. I’m with a new team, new teammates. I’m kind of re-establishing myself as a quarterback at this time.
“It’s a totally new chapter in my football career and I’m trying to be the best quarterback I can in this chapter. I’m not really trying to outdo the player I was earlier in my career.”
In many ways, though, that’s exactly what he’s doing.
Whatever Manning’s lost in zip, he’s made up for in other ways. He’s completed 304 of 448 passes for 3,502 yards with a franchise-record 29 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions for an AFC-best 104.6 QB rating — second only to his 2004 season.
“I’m not sure I can do some of the things I could do when I was 28,” Manning said. “Is that because I’m 36 years old? Could be. Is it because I’m playing with a different team and I’m getting on the same page with different teammates? It could be all of those. It could be a combination of a couple of them.”
The things that weren’t affected by his neck injury — footwork, balance, alignment, recognition — have all aligned in Denver along with his return to health to make him as good as ever.