THIBODAUX, La. -- Even for the Manning brothers, this offseason has been extraordinary, from Eli basking in a second Super Bowl triumph to Peyton's comeback in a new uniform.
They're getting some family time this weekend at their annual football camp in their native Louisiana. For Eli and father Archie, it's been gratifying to see Peyton throwing again, something he could not do at the Manning Passing Academy a year ago while recovering from neck surgery that sidelined him for all of 2011.
Peyton gave a terse "No," when asked if he has something to prove as he comes back from injury with the Denver Broncos after being replaced by Andrew Luck for the Indianapolis Colts, where Peyton spent the first 14 years of his pro career. He did, however, have plenty to say about how happy he is that his rehabilitation is at the point where he feels like an NFL quarterback again.
"It has been exciting for me to be back on the field," Peyton said. "When you're injured, it's not fun. You're kind of quarantined. It's nice to be able kind of get the reins cut off, being able to participate in OTAs, minicamp."
Peyton said he still has more rehabilitation ahead and has "stopped giving percentages" regarding how healthy he is, but his goal remains to participate fully in training camp, preseason and the regular season.
Eli, meanwhile, smiles at the sight of his older brother back on the field, actively running high school-age campers through drills along with the college quarterbacks who serve as counselors.
"I've seen him play football since I was seven years old, so the last 25 years he's been a great role model and someone to follow -- his work ethic and how he handles himself and how he plays the game at such a high level," Eli said. "I'm excited to see him back in uniform, see him back playing. Obviously he went through a tough year last year."
One thing Eli has not done, at least not in the form of anything more than good-natured ribbing, is emphasize the fact that he has two Super Bowl rings over Peyton's one. Eli still seems genuinely uncomfortable with the idea that he may now be the better of the brother QBs.
"Peyton is a four-time MVP, a Super Bowl champion," Eli said. "He's coming off an injury, but he's going to be ready to play. ... We're both looking forward to a great season ahead of us."
For Peyton, rehabbing is one issue. Adjusting to a new team is another.
"There's no question it's been a big change, a big switch. It's one I'm trying to adjust to," Peyton said. "There's constantly something to learn, something to adjust to, new players, new teammates, new coaches, new surroundings. So when you're 14 years in one place, you do kind of become institutionalized. ... Everybody keeps saying, 'Are you settled yet?' ... I don't think anybody can get settled in a couple of months. So it'll take some time but I'm embracing the challenge and looking forward to getting to know my teammates more and more."
Former Saints quarterback Archie Manning started the family football camp 17 years ago, and he now hosts it on the campus of Nicholls State along with his two Super Bowl-winning sons and his oldest son Cooper.
Elite college quarterbacks now come every year to serve as counselors. This year Southern California's Matt Barkley is among them. Last year, it was Luck, who was drafted first overall by the Colts and now is in the difficult position of replacing Peyton in Indianapolis.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press