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Will Peyton Manning be the player we remember?

  • By Dan Hanzus and Marc Sessler NFL.com
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Eric Lars Bakke/Associated Press
Peyton Manning had multiple neck surgeries in a 19-month span and spent the entirety of the 2011 season healing.

 

When Peyton Manning takes his initial snap with the Denver Broncos in September, it will mark the quarterback's first action in a meaningful NFL game since the 2010 playoffs.

The Broncos invested a whole mess of money in Manning under the assumption he'll be close to the same player who re-wrote record books with the Indianapolis Colts for 14 seasons.

It was reported Tuesday that Manning's arm strength is at 85 to 90 percent, with no promise it will improve beyond that. Considering the lingering concerns over his troublesome neck, is it safe to assume Manning will be the same player we last saw with the Colts?

In their latest edition of "He Said, He Said," Around The League's Dan Hanzus and Marc Sessler offer two opinions on a hot-buzz topic in the NFL.

Hanzus: Don't doubt Manning

First off, about the percentage thing. Let's forget the idea of Peyton Manning being "85 to 90" percent. We're not Terminator models. As far as I can tell, you're either alive (100 percent) or dead (0 percent). Therefore, Manning is 100 percent.

But is Manning's 100 percent in 2012 good enough to keep him among the elite at his position?

Why not? The last time we saw him, he threw for 4,700 yards, 33 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in leading the Colts to their ninth straight playoff appearance.

If Manning is healthy enough to play -- and he wouldn't have gotten that fat contract from the Broncos if he wasn't going to be -- there's no reason to expect his numbers to fall off the cliff at age 36. His arm strength might not be what it once was, but do you really doubt Manning's ability to alter his game to suit his abilities?

Seriously now, if there was ever a quarterback who could re-invent himself and still play at a high level, wouldn't it be the hyper-cerebral Manning? I can almost picture Cris Collinsworth genuflecting in the "Sunday Night Football" booth right now.

The Broncos might not be great this season. But Manning still will be.

 

Sessler: Peyton faces challenge

You can't blame the Broncos for rolling the dice on Peyton Manning. I'm not here to rain on their little parade, but I see issues and darker questions scattered along the road ahead.

Manning hasn't faced a live defense in 19 months. The recent reports are encouraging, and nobody works harder than Manning, but we haven't seen him endure punishment. Nobody knows if he's healthy enough to do this for 16 games.

I'm not predicting doom for Manning, but tempered expectations are a must. This is a 36-year-old quarterback with neck issues. One who's about to guide Denver through a relentlessly ugly schedule. Long gone is the safe, domed climate. Manning's a cold-weather quarterback now, being asked to lead a mid-tier roster to the playoffs. Even if we had dropped the 2010 Manning into this scenario, I'd predict a drop-off.

From an individual standpoint, I'm concerned Manning won't make it through the season. From a team level -- and wins are the acid test for The Peyton Experiment -- I don't see the Broncos dominating anything this year.

He's cerebral. He's intensely competitive and driven to reach another Super Bowl. That can't be taken from Peyton Manning. But this is not the same quarterback.

 

Dan Hanzus and Marc Sessler contribute at 85 to 90 percent for Around the League.

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