ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Although he won’t have to deal with AARP solicitations for another decade, Peyton Manning is certainly more of a graybeard quarterback than a greenhorn at age 39.
Still, the Denver Broncos star took exception Wednesday when he was asked more than once about being old, at least by NFL standards.
“You all keep using that word,” Manning countered playfully. “There’s got to be a synonym out there. Growing?”
“Yeah, all of those,” Manning said. “I like those. Good stuff.”
At any rate, Manning said that with all the changes going on in Denver, he sure doesn’t feel like a venerable veteran.
Learning a new offense and coaching staff this summer while also adjusting to new targets and a retooled offensive line is keeping the five-time MVP young at heart.
Just like 2012, when he arrived in Denver after being jettisoned by the Indianapolis Colts, Manning said he’s actually energized by all the changes.
He said he’s spoken with other players who cut short their careers because they grew bored with the endless hours of film study and repetitions at practice, but he’s not in that category.
He actually likes deciphering defenses in the film room and on the football field.
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“I think everybody likes continuity and some consistency in what you’re doing. But I will say at age 36 when I got here and now 39 that I have been stimulated by the changes, which I do think keeps you engaged and energetic and focused in meetings,” Manning said.
He said he’s “not bored in the least bit” and isn’t at all stymied by the changes.
“I’m studying and I feel like I’m engaged in trying to learn something new from (coach) Gary Kubiak, learn something new from (offensive coordinator) Rick Dennison and learn a little something from (free agent acquisition) Owen Daniels,” Manning said. “And any time someone has a question of me, I’m glad to answer that.”
Despite taking some time this winter to confirm he was still passionate and productive enough to return for an 18th NFL season, the only retirement on Manning’s radar this summer was David Letterman’s farewell last month. Manning participated in the late-night host’s final show.
Then, it was right back to Denver, where he’s been adjusting to new football philosophies and new faces, including a retooled offensive line that lost star left tackle Ryan Clady to a season-ending knee injury a few weeks after rookie tight end Jeff Heuerman tore his left ACL.
Lining up at the team’s mandatory minicamp this week were: a rookie left tackle; a left guard who hasn’t started a game since 2009 when he was chasing down quarterbacks, not protecting them; a center who played only a handful of snaps last season in Baltimore; and a right tackle who was benched last year.
His top target is absent, too.
Demaryius Thomas is boycotting the Broncos’ offseason program after receiving the $12.82 million franchise tag as he awaits a long-term contract. So, Manning has been getting to know Cody Latimer, who hardly played as a rookie last season.
All these challenges are what excite Manning at an age when most players have retired to the broadcast booth or are hitting the links instead of the weights.
Manning, who’s seen his workload reduced this offseason as part of Kubiak’s plan to keep him fresh and get backups Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert more work, said he sees his age as a blessing, not a burden.
“You always try to use your experience as a teacher,” he said. “I’ve always tried to learn something from every repetition, situation, defense, kind of best how to counter it. So, hopefully you have a pretty good storage file up there in your mind, in your memory that you can use to figure out what works.”
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
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