ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Last Spring, quarterback
Then, the focus was on rehabilitation from the neck surgeries that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season.
Now, Manning is back on Duke’s campus and instead of wondering who his teammates are going to be for the upcoming year, he brought a trio of Broncos receivers with him to North Carolina.
"It’s certainly nice to be here under more normal circumstances,” Manning told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. “I’m here with three of my wide receivers – Eric (Decker), Wes (Welker) and Demaryius (Thomas). I had such great work with (Duke Head) Coach (David) Cutcliffe last year, it’s kind of like a golfer going back to an old swing coach. It’s a great time to work on the fundamentals and mechanics.”
Along with the quartet of Broncos in Durham, N.C., Eli Manning and three Giants wide receivers – Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Louis Murphy – are also working out under the watchful eye of Cutcliffe, who coached both Peyton and Eli Manning during their college careers.
"I told Cutcliffe to coach us like we were both freshman at Tennessee or Ole Miss,” Manning said. “It's been great work, great timing with the receivers this early in the offseason."
This week’s throwing sessions at Duke mark the first time that Manning has thrown to Welker outside of Pro Bowls.
The 10th-year wideout joined the Broncos as a free agent this offseason after catching 118 passes for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns in 2012 with the Patriots.
"There are certain guys you just feel like you have timing with right away," Manning said about throwing to Welker. "He's a guy that has a great feel for how to get open, and understands route concepts and, of course, he played in such a sophisticated offense there in New England, so he's a smart player. You can see why he's been such a productive player. He's intense. He loves to work."
The first phase of the Broncos’ offseason program begins on Monday, April 15. Manning said that he enjoyed seeing that his trio of wideouts were willing to take time out of their offseason to come down and work out before the official start of the team’s program.
"It's kind of inspiring for an old player like me to be around guys that love to work,” he said. “It makes me proud to play quarterback."