My Sirius Radio co-host Jim Miller put it best when he stated that at this time last year, the Colts hid Peyton Manning from the media so well that he may as well have been in a witness protection program.
Manning missed all of training camp and the entire preseason last year before rebounding to win his third NFL MVP award. This year, no one is more elated than Manning himself to be at training camp. And good thing he’s in camp, too, as Manning has a number of wrinkles to iron out before the season starts .
- Manning must adjust to new coach Jim Caldwell. This should be an easy transition, as Caldwell has served as Manning’s quarterback coach over the last seven years. But Manning says things will be different. Manning knows Caldwell to be a meticulous note-taker who is extremely organized, and is very detailed. But Manning says the relationship becomes more formal with a greater offering of respect in every way.
- “I’m the guy sitting up front in the first row during meetings,” says Manning. “I, like everyone else, need to improve in order to impress our new head coach.”
- Manning needs to establish a working chemistry between himself and the expected replacement for his long time favorite receiver Marvin Harrison. WRs Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez have been there before. But Pierre Garcon, Roy Hall, Taj Smith and rookie Austin Collie are competing to catch the coach’s eye and Manning’s laser-locked passes.
- Manning says the tradition of no rookie hazing began with his former coach, Tony Dungy, in the effort to get young players on the field contributing right away. Manning also believes the sooner his young receivers begin to think and act like veterans, the sooner they will begin to produce on the field. Manning believes he can best help his young receivers to acclimate to the Colts’ complex offense by helping them to understand the need for speed in the timing and tempo of their unique scheme.
- Manning must take care of his legs. This offseason, while playing a round of golf with Bill Parcells, the future Hall of Fame coach reminded Manning of the need to take care of his legs in order to continue playing at a very high level. After last year’s scare with an infected bursa sac, Manning already knew that his legs are his most important asset, second only to his arm. His subtle moves inside the pocket and a strong sense of balance needed to throw the ball accurately are made possible by strength and flexibility in the lower extremities.
- Manning has started every one of his possible 176 regular-season games during his 11-year career. It’s been proven that his talent, hard work and football acumen make him the perfect quarterback impresario.