Peyton Manning: Leaner And Stronger Than Ever At 39


Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has never been one to rest on his laurels, but the way he’s looked thus far in training camp has shocked both current and former teammates alike.

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Manning’s former backup and current Seattle Seahawks broadcaster Brock Huard said in April that the legendary quarterback showed up five pounds lighter than he’s ever seen him before and looked very strong.

Veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware took it a step further Thursday.

“It’s different than a year ago. It’s crazy, but he’s throwing the ball a lot harder and even more accurate than last year,” Ware told Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post. “I think that goes to diet, preparation and how the practices are tailored so they aren’t taxing on the body. He’s the player he’s always been with a little bit more edge.”

Aug 12, 2015; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) warms up with running drills during training camp activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As previously reported, head coach Gary Kubiak has had Manning on a pitch count and new routine that sees the 16-year veteran practice three days on and one day off. Thursday was one of those days off for not only Manning, but also tight end Owen Daniels among other veterans.

Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who enters his second season with the team, noticed the difference in his quarterback. “Man, he’s looking real good. I don’t feel like he’s lost a step,” said Sanders to Christopher Hart of “I asked him the other day – he doesn’t wear the glove. I told him, ‘Man, your arm’s a lot stronger without the glove.’ That’s pretty impressive. I can tell that he’s been putting a lot of work in this offseason.”

Manning smirked when asked about Sanders’ comments Thursday and went on to (as he typically does) downplay any improvements his teammates have been raving about regarding arm strength or his glove.

“I practiced with (the glove) in the spring, but I haven’t worn it as much during training camp. I don’t really have a set play one way or the other. I feel pretty comfortable with both,” Manning said to Renck. “Yeah, I should (try) a pickle jar or something (to test his grip). Can I unscrew it?”

It’s hard to know – unless you’re in Manning’s head and body – how much nerve issues caused by four neck surgeries played into his lack of velocity at the end of last year. It’s long-since been speculated that Manning was simply worn out and the quad tear he suffered late in the season made getting any zip on his passes next to impossible during the last five weeks.

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It’s been reported Manning started training extremely hard back in February to get into the type of shape he’s in now.

Modern supplements, cutting-edge training methods, Kubiak’s dedication to moderating his quarterback’s workload and Manning’s rabid work ethic should leave the wise football fan expecting to see a much better season from start-to-finish from Manning.

Yet questions do – and should – remain.

That said, was there ever any doubt that Manning would work harder than anyone in the offseason to make sure that he performs to his standard of excellence?

Saturday, we’ll get our first peek at Manning’s form. Indeed, all eyes will be on the veteran signal-caller as the Broncos plan on playing their first-string offense as much as the entire first half against J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans’ maniacal defense.

Will Reeve is a contributing writer to NFL Spin Zone, you can follow him on Twitter @WillReeveJr or connect with him on Facebook here.

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