By Ryan Mayer

(CBS4)- This offseason for Broncos rookies is vastly different from any that have been seen in years past. This year’s group has had to go through its install meetings and voluntary team workouts virtually as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. However, some things have remained the same, including former players joining rookie meetings to impart some wisdom from their careers. For the Broncos, that meant the return of Peyton Manning who surprised the rookies by joining their Zoom meeting late last week.

Manning’s main focus was the thing that made him one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game: the work ethic needed to thrive at the pro level.

“You got to work even harder than that now. And, I see too many players sort of stop doing that. They think that they have really done something because they got to this point,” said Manning.

Manning jumping on the call meant a little more to third round pick Lloyd Cushenberry III. The former LSU Tigers offensive lineman is a Louisiana native like Manning and Cushenberry III grew up looking up to Manning.

“It was crazy. Just growing up watching Peyton Manning. Him being from Louisiana, that’s a guy you kind of always look up to and just watch every Sunday,” said Cushenberry III. “It was great for him to come in and talk to us about how he prepared every week during his career. It was great to hear from him and take notes.”

Cushenberry III said that the main focus of Manning’s speech was preparation and practice. The surefire Hall of Fame quarterback was known throughout his career to be meticulous on the practice field and that’s one of the big takeaways that Cushenberry III got from the meeting.

“Mainly about how he prepared and how he stressed practice a lot. It was very important for him to know what he needed to do. He took practice serious. A note that I wrote down is that he treated practice like a game from the walk through to the team period,” said Cushenberry III. “He knew exactly not only what he had to do but what the equipment manager all the way to the right tackle needed to do. He knew exactly what everyone had to do and he took pride in that.”

The 22-year-old Cushenberry III, who is likely to step in to take over at center for the team this season took the time to ask Manning what separated the top centers he had played with from other guys.

“He just said he played with Jeff Saturday, an undrafted guy coming in who used to work in a grocery store. He was tough, dependable, smart and a lot of the centers that he’s played with that’s something they all had in common,” said Cushenberry III. “Another thing he said was to come in and really learn what the quarterback sees so you guys and be on the same page.”

Ryan Mayer