ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Ty Warren just returned to the field and already he’s taking shots at quarterbacks.
Playfully, of course.
And from the safety of a podium.
Since the Denver Broncos defensive lineman once played with Tom Brady in New England and now has Peyton Manning running the show in the Mile High City, Warren was asked where he stood on the QB debate.
As in, who’s better under center.
“Manning, all day, man,” Warren said, laughing. “What do you want me to say? That’s my teammate!”
Warren was actually a surprise visitor on Wednesday after agreeing to a restructured deal in time to join his teammates on the field for voluntary workouts.
Lately, Warren hasn’t seen a lot of the field, sitting out 2010 with a hip injury while with the Patriots and missing all of last season in Denver when he had surgery to repair his torn right triceps.
Given his injury-riddled past, the team was hoping Warren would take a pay cut. He understood the business decision, saying, “Ultimately, we met at middle ground and got the deal done.”
No hurt feelings, either. Now, there’s just an interest in making up for lost snaps.
Hardly surprising, he feels fresher than he has in quite a while. Then again, he hasn’t started a game since December 2009.
“As far as my body feeling good, I haven’t felt this good – I don’t know, since I was bigger than everybody else in high school, and I could go play a game and dominate and walk away without a scratch on me,” Warren said. “It’s been a long time since I felt as good as I feel.”
Warren signed a two-year, $8 million deal last August, shortly after his release from the Patriots. But drawing a big paycheck last season for sitting on the sideline left a sour taste and he feels like he has a little something to prove.
“The past couple of years, unfortunately you can’t control that stuff,” he said. “I don’t go into a deal saying, `I have to go have hip surgery’ or come into Broncos camp saying, `I’m going to tear my triceps.’
“I definitely hated fact that I wasn’t able to do anything for the way I was compensated. I do have a conscience, in that sense.”
For Warren, the decision to stay put boiled down to this – his family.
“If things didn’t work out, was it worth moving my kids back across the country at this point?” the 31-year-old said. “Who knows what amount of money or what the circumstances might have been? I would’ve had to evaluate that, just because of the size of my family and the point my young ladies are at at this point of their lives.”
Warren was the centerpiece of the Broncos’ modest free agency plan last season, but he was injured in early August and had surgery a week later. The team initially held out hope he might be able to return, only to place him on injured reserve in mid-September.
“It definitely was a blow,” he said. “I had every intention to come in, earn my spot on the team, make an impact on the team, as I have in years before when I was healthy.
“From the time of the injury all the way up until this whole renegotiating deal, even after that, I continued to work. It was a bump in the road. When you have perspective, you can overcome that stuff.”
Every think about calling it quits?
“I never thought about the “R” word or anything like that,” he said, referring to retirement.
Warren will now be part of a rotation of defensive tackles that will include Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson and rookie Derek Wolfe. He’s also eager to create more opportunities for the defensive end tandem of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller to rush the quarterback.
“I watched film with those guys although I wasn’t on the field – I pretty much was there right along on the whole ride with them without being on the field,” Warren said. “I’m definitely excited about having those guys on the edge because, personally, it’s been a long time.”
Then there’s this: After years of chasing after Manning, Warren is elated to be his teammate.
“When I found out that he came here, I was on alert just like everybody else was on alert,” he said. “Just for the simple fact that his track record, it speaks for itself. … And let’s be honest, a guy like that makes your life easy. He makes everybody’s life easy.”
NOTES: DB Chris Harris said the defense picked off Manning five times in practice on Tuesday. Asked if they were for sure all off Manning, he laughed and said, “I think we got Peyton five times. … It’s a great feeling picking off Peyton, but it’s just OTAs. We’ve still got a long ways to go. It’s just great when you can finally get them.”
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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