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Learning From Manning

Posted May 28, 2012

The Broncos' wide receivers are adjusting to a new quarterback this offseason - and learning a lot in the process.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo -- Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Matthew Willis, three wide receivers that return to the Broncos’ roster from last season, have started a combined 21 games in their careers.

Their new quarterback, Peyton Manning, has started 208.

That experience is something that the wide receivers are taking advantage of, learning as much as they can from Manning during OTAs.

“It’s been great,” Decker said about working with Manning. “He’s such an intelligent person, it’s unbelievable. He digests (information) and tells us what is going through his mind.”

OTAs marked the first time that the receivers could catch passes from Manning, while also working against a live defense. Having a defense present for drills helps the receivers and Manning work on their timing and intricacies of how they run routes.

“As a receiver what you want to do is become dependable and reliable and that’s just making plays on the field,” Decker said about working with Manning. “Obviously, running the right routes, doing some extra studying and just getting on the same page—I think that’s kind of our focus, when we step on the field there’s no thinking; everything is reacting. We understand his checks, his calls and what he wants to do from that standpoint.”

Thomas said that working with Manning is like having another coach out on the field.

“You get him (helping) everybody,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s just something he always does with his receivers, and he’s doing the same for us.”

Head Coach John Fox has noticed Manning’s impact on the team’s young wide receiver corps as well – both on and off the field.

“He does have great command,” Fox said. “He understands the game. As much as he’s accomplished on the field, the things he does off the field in a leadership role is tremendous. … He definitely raises all boats, that’s for sure. That’s not just with the young players, it’s with the veterans. We’re excited with where that is and what he’s done to raise those boats.”

Cornerback Champ Bailey is getting a firsthand look at how Manning has helped the wide receivers improve. He’s noticed that if a receiver can get a slight edge on a defender, Manning delivers the ball on target. 

“I think they’re on their way,” Bailey said. “One thing about them, if they get open a little bit, they’re open a lot to (Manning). That’s one thing that’s a big difference this year.”

Manning, who is participating in his first set of OTAs in two years, appreciates the importance of having time in the offseason to develop a rapport with the receivers.

Manning is well-known for his tireless work effort and attention to details on the field. Working with a new set of receivers makes this offseason crucial for him and the receivers to get on the same page in advance of the 2012 season.

“I’ve always believed that you develop your timing for the passing game in the offseason,” he said. “I don’t think you can just show up in September and expect to be on the same page.”