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Manning's Second Chapter

Posted Oct 17, 2013

QB Peyton Manning talks about his transition to Denver, the "new chapter" of his career.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Peyton Manning hasn't shied away from the fact that he's in the homestretch of his football career -- he said as much in his Wednesday press conference.

But that doesn't mean he's slowing down.

As has been well-documented, the quarterback is on pace to break a number of single-season records in 2013, including the most touchdown passes thrown -- he has the most of any player through six games in NFL history.

“Well, I’ve worked hard in this new chapter of my football career. I’ve put a lot of time in and it’s been extremely difficult," Manning said. "As I’ve said over and over again, I’ve had a lot of people help me in this second chapter that I’ll never ever cease to be grateful for that help."

Wednesday afternoon, Manning was asked how he feels now about being released by the Colts and signed by the Broncos.

"I’ve learned that in life, you need to be at peace with other people’s decisions that affect you, that you have no control over," he said. "I think that’s been good advice that I’ve had over the years, and it’s certainly served me well in this particular scenario."

Last season, in a completely new environment after 14 years in Indianapolis, Manning set new Broncos single-season marks in nearly every major passing category.

His 400 completions, 68.6 percent completion percentage, 4,659 passing yards, 37 touchdown passes, 105.8 quarterback rating and nine 300-yard passing games were all franchise records.

"Last year was a gratifying feeling to get back and play," Manning said. "You miss not being in the huddle. And this year there has been enough change with the new offensive coordinator (Adam Gase) and a new slot receiver (Wes Welker) and a different tight end (Julius Thomas) to keep you kind of energized and on your toes with all the different changes. So I’m certainly enjoying playing football again. And when you’re out of a job, you’ve got to go find another job, and Denver offered me one and I took it and they sure have helped me in my new job.”

Now that he is in the midst of "chapter two" of his football career, especially in the middle of a season, Manning isn't particularly keen on looking backwards.

So he's been hesitant to size up this year's Broncos offense to some of the best of his career with the Colts.

“I just don’t compare to other years," he said. "The only thing I compare to probably is maybe somewhat of last year, because that’s more of my current baseline. But people make comparisons to other receivers in other years in other teams and that’s just too hard when you’re in a different place in a different organization with a different culture. So I feel better than last year. I still have some things that are different post-injury. But I’ve made some improvements from last year. I’ve put a lot of time in. I think any time you’re in a second year of a new chapter you have more familiarity with the culture."

He maintained that it takes years to build the type of chemistry quarterbacks and receivers like to have, but he is much more familiar with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas than he was a year ago. He's gotten six games under his belt with wide receiver Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas as a new weapon.

But the group still has a ways to go.

"We’ve done some things well early, but I still think there’s a lot – we’re far from being a well-oiled machine by any means. We’re still working out a number of kinks, in my opinion.”

And he also didn't feel a weekly Wednesday press conference was the best time to reminisce about his time with the Colts and what the fans in Indianapolis mean to him -- even with a trip back to Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday looming.

The four-time NFL MVP said he doesn't feel like he has ever stopped communicating with the fans in his old city, from corresponding through mail to working with the children's hospital in Indianapolis to greeting fans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in No. 18 Colts jerseys.

"There’s always a connection there," he said. "So I think to have to deliver a message means that I’ve been gone—and I really don’t think that I have—but I guess if you need one catch phrase for your news tonight I would just echo what I said back in March 2012 that boy, I sure did enjoy being their quarterback for 14 years.”

But now a Denver Bronco, Manning's focus is on doing everything he can to prepare for a tough 4-2 Colts team.

"Midseason of your 16th year when you’re playing a really good team, I think, on the road," he said, "it’s hard to get too reflective."