Heading into Super Bowl 50, one of the biggest storylines has been whether Manning is physically up to the task of leading the Denver Broncos past a talented Carolina Panthers squad. Manning admitted at Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday that he's not the same player he used to be, but his teammates have continue to declare their unwavering faith in the 39-year-old quarterback. On Thursday, Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sandersreminded everyone it was Manning's foot, not his arm, that was the culprit behind his subpar season.
Here's what else we learned on the final day of player availability to the media before Super Bowl 50:
"I don't have any thoughts on the guy except: see you on Sunday. And I don't know if I will," Norman said. "I guess that's why he's doing all the talking," he said. "I haven't heard much from 88 so that's good."
- Thomas Davis won't really know anything about his arm until Sunday. The linebacker is still deciding between two different braces for the arm he broke less than two weeks ago. It's plated and the stitches aren't going to be out by the Super Bowl. Basically, there will be blood. But the veteran linebacker said he would be honest with coach Ron Rivera if his arm was failing him on Sunday and he just might -- he has not tested it against contact in any significant way so far.
- Jared Allen is a badass. The defensive end purchased all his fellow defensive ends expensive black cowboy boots this week -- and they were a big hit. Allen has been a rah-rah guy almost everywhere he's gone and his personality has been a great fit on the gregarious Panthers. If he wins the Super Bowl on Sunday, could he ride off into the sunset as one of the league's two active sack leaders?
-- Conor Orr
- NFL Media's Mike Silver wrote an excellent piece on Broncos pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. To a man, their teammates and coaches raved about the duo this week, with outside linebackers assistant Fred Pagac calling Ware "as good as they get," and a future Hall of Famer, while labeling Miller "as good an athlete as I've been around in 37 years of coaching." It was especially interesting to hear from rookie outside linebacker Shane Ray, who told me: "I got two of the best in my room every day, so I can see what I need to do to be great."
- Denver cornerback Aqib Talib still dreams about playing offense, saying Thursday that he was almost used on that side of the ball during his years with the Buccaneers and even fielded passes from Tom Brady during Patriots practice when he landed in New England. With eight pick-sixes during his eight-year career, including a pair of scores this season, Talib is an X-factor heading into Super Bowl 50.
- Chris Wesseling wrote a fine column Thursday on the topic of Peyton Manning's arm strength. The Broncos quarterback has gone without a touchdown in nine of his last 18 games, but wideout Emmanuel Sanders says the issue isn't Peyton's arm, but a plantar fascia injury that reportedly dates back to training camp. "It wasn't his arm. It was just his foot," Sanders stressed Thursday. "Peyton's arm has always been good to me, in my eyes. He's never had a really, really strong arm. He's always been the guy that before you come out of your breaks, the ball is there."
- Best part of the day? I'll go with Snoop Dogg showing up to Peyton's presser to ask for half-priced pizzas. The iconic rapper caused a stir at the team hotel by grabbing the mic to make his special request. "Peyton, Snoop Dogg from the Rich Eisen Show," he said. "First of all, can I get a 50 percent discount on Papa John's pizzas when I'm in the state of Colorado?"
"Absolutely," replied Peyton. "Absolutely."
- Broncos players did an excellent job this week patiently handling a million oddball questions. More than a few players told me the bigger issue was having to answer the same queries over and over, although offensive lineman Evan Mathis went out of his way to say he was thankful for the experience and opportunity to go through Super Bowl week. For all its minor hassles, it's an incredible chance for writers, too, to get a deeper look at everyone on the roster. Next stop: Super Bowl 50.
-- Marc Sessler