Peyton Manning is finally comfortable, but shhh, don’t let him know you said that.
“Comfortable is sometimes a word that he doesn’t like and that we don’t like to use a lot around here because we don’t want to be complacent. We don’t want to be feeling good about ourselves, we really haven’t done anything,” said Broncos tight end and former teammate in Indianapolis Jacob Tamme. “I think there’s a good comfort as far as knowing everybody and being around the guys but there’s also that hunger and that edge that’s always there.”
Last year at this time his career was in question, if solely by media embellishment, coming off several unusual procedures to repair his neck. He was also settling into his new home, having to study a city map along with his new playbook in Denver. Manning had to prove to everyone again that he was more than just an average NFL quarterback; over 4,659 yards, a 68.9% completion percentage and 37 touchdown passes showed that.
He’s now at home and in charge of his life and football future.
“We’ve talked about it a lot, but he was going through a lot,” Tamme continued. “And not only a new team, but just with his body and his rehab and he’s still working on that but you can tell that he feels a little bit better.”
Entering his second season, less strenuous due to subdued unknowns, Manning is at ease, or as much as a perfectionist can be. His arm strength, footwork is nearing where he wants them to be and his confidence in his receivers is notably higher during voluntary organized team activities over the course of the last month.
“I’ve certainly made strides when you talk about in comparison to this time in 2012. I feel better, I’ve made some improvements. I still have some improvements that I want to make,” Manning said. “I think every player would probably tell you that and they have things that they want to improve on.”
He won’t totally let on much more than that, but it’s also that sort of gamesmanship that is one of the truest qualities Manning has. He’s under center, audibling and directing his offense in the proper way or he’s pulling a prank, like masterminding a pie to the face of an offensive lineman that builds camaraderie.
Manning is at his most comfortable when he is in complete control, moreso now than a year prior.
“Time he was trying to get to know his teammates and city, coming off the injury and you really don’t know what to expect,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “It seems he’s more relaxed and I like to see that in my quarterback.”