Peyton Manning stepped to the podium Monday in Denver dressed head to toe in Broncos gear. It's going to take some time before that looks normal.
On the first day of the team's offseason training program, Manning bemoaned life under the new collective bargaining agreement. He said it was "more of a challenge" to help develop his young receivers because on-field work with coaches is limited.
Then again, Manning is working on the field plenty on his own. He took receivers on the field Monday and said they'll work on "one or two routes" a day to master.
"You can't show up in September and expect to complete passes," Manning said.
"I think a lot of players around the NFL will tell you the lockout threw a lot of players off their routine and what they're used to," he added. "So, I (like) the fact that everybody's allowed to be in the facility now working out under one roof, we can throw on the field now, right next to the weight room now as opposed to going to a high school. That was what you had to do, but it's nice to be able to do everything here and have some time with the coaches as well."
Manning believes in offseason work as much as any NFL quarterback. He said he has thrown to Eric Decker more than any other Broncos receiver this offseason and expects Decker to take on a veteran role. (Alarms should be going off for fantasy leaguers.) The entire Broncos crew has impressed Manning with its willingness to work on the little things.
"I'm not his doctor, I don't know how to speak on his health, but catching balls from him, it looks like there's nothing wrong to me," Decker told The Associated Press. "He's throwing great balls, he's getting the work in just like we're getting the work in, knocking the rust off. I see no issues at this point."
"Any time that management wants to add good football players to this team, I'm all in favor of it," Manning said.
Manning might not feel at home in Denver yet, but he sounds like the same old guy. He said he won't provide "weekly updates" on his rehabilitation, but he wants you to know he's doing everything he can to get ready for September.
"It's been all business," he said. "... Everybody's been asking me where I've been living. I've been living here (at the facility)."