The 2012 NFL season is shaping up to be an exciting one for the Denver Broncos and their newly acquired QB Peyton Manning. The star quarterback, the only four-time MVP in NFL history, missed the entire 2011 season, but he is back and looking strong in orange and navy.
Manning, a 13-season veteran from the Indianapolis Colts, started the first 277 consecutive games of his NFL career, but was sidelined last year by a degenerative nerve condition that forced the star to undergo four neck surgeries. This led to his departure from the Colts, after which the Broncos signed Manning to a five-year, $96 million contract.
To make room for the deal, Denver sent their previous quarterback, Tim Tebow, to the NY Jets, foregoing Tebow’s option-heavy offense and comeback charisma for Manning’s accurate passing game. The problem for the Denver Broncos will be adjustment in their 2012 season. Manning is renowned for his passing game with the Colts, while the 2011 Broncos under Tebow led the league in offensive rushing yards. Manning and his new team must learn to work together at the line to make a successful season happen, and training camp is the best place to start.
The Broncos’ offseason training camp began July 26 under the watchful eye of over 4,000 screaming fans, and practice has gone smoothly thus far. According to the Los Angeles Times, after the first practice with his new team, Manning said “I still have things I need to work on. I’ve made progress, but there’s a lot of work to do.” There has been some concern over Manning’s potentially-failing arm strength, but his accuracy and timing on the field should compensate for any decrease in his “long” game.
In addition to his stellar passing track record, Manning also brought a new training tool to use with the coaches in Denver and his backup quarterbacks. During practice, Manning has someone record every snap from a viewpoint behind and above the quarterback. The high-angle viewpoint allows players and coaches to focus on small details like the position of feet or helmet movements. This enables the offense to ensure they do not develop any body language that may tip off a perceptive defense.
Manning used this technique while at the University of Tennessee and throughout his illustrious career in Indianapolis. Hall-of-Famer and the Broncos’ top football executive, John Elway stated, “The amount of time that Peyton spends on those little things, on the preparation side, is amazing. I don’t know that there’s anyone who’s come close to what he does,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Broncos’ preseason is scheduled to begin when they travel to face the Chicago Bears on August 9. Following three other preseason games, the 2012 season officially kicks off for Denver on Sunday, September 9 at 8:20 p.m. when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Broncos hope to make Manning’s appearance on the roster a worthwhile investment, potentially pulling out their first winning season since 2006. Only time will tell, however, if the 36-year-old star quarterback can hold up to the pressure.