ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos' voluntary offseason workout program began on Monday, and for the rookie classes of 2010 and '11, it's the first such program of their careers.
This year marks the first opportunity that wide receiver Eric Decker has had to work with his quarterback during the offseason.
"For me to finally have an offseason – I was hurt coming into my rookie season, last year was the lockout and during college I played baseball, so I never really got that time to get this technique and to get this extra work in," he said on Monday. "I'm excited for the next six weeks."
Linebacker Von Miller thinks that having a chance to meet his new teammates before the start of training camp will help as he looks to improve on his stellar rookie campaign.
"It's always an advantage when you can sit down and work on stuff before you are thrown into the fire, he said. "I think for all us rookies that were playing last year, I think it's a huge advantage for us going into this year. I think it's an advantage for our team to jell more and really get the playbook down. It's always an advantage when you can have an offseason under your belt."
It's not just the young players that have been looking forward to the offseason program. Quarterback Peyton Manning thinks a lot of players realized what they were missing without the program in place last offseason.
"I am (looking forward to the offseason program), there's no question," Manning said. "And I think a lot of players around the NFL will probably tell you the lockout last year probably threw a lot of players off their routine of what they're used to. … Guys have been looking forward to this day, I think, for some time now."
Decker, Manning and Miller all provided updates on their health when they met with the press Monday morning.
Decker, who injured his knee in Denver's Wild Card Round victory over Pittsburgh, says he's feeling good and will be ready to go for the season opener with no lingering effects.
"I feel great," he said. "I had the MCL in the Pittsburgh game, but I rehabbed it through February and ever since have been working out. I have no setbacks, no pains even, from the knee. I'm happy. I'm excited, I'm back at it."
Miller injured his thumb during Denver's win at San Diego in Week 12 and missed the team's game the following week before finishing the season with a cast. Like Decker, Miller said that he has been rehabbing and following a procedure to remove the pins from his hand is getting closer to full strength.
"It's a lot better," he said. "It's about 85 percent right now. I'm 100 percent positive that when the season starts I won't have any problems out of it. I'm doing rehab and working on all that stuff right now. I should have it back 100 percent, I'm positive about that, when the season starts."
Manning, who missed the 2011 season with a neck injury, has been rehabbing under the watchful eyes of Head Athletic Trainer Steve "Greek" Antonopulos and Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Richesson since he signed with the Broncos in March.
"I'm continuing to work hard on my rehab—certainly part of my phase in my time with 'Greek' in the training room," Manning said. "It's been good to get into that consistent routine with Luke and with 'Greek.' That is one thing that I haven't been doing up until the time I signed here—kind of traveling and going to different places and not really having a home base to set up out of. I'm working hard with 'Greek' and with Luke and just trying to make progress. I'm enjoying being under one roof, being supervised by those two guys."
NEW STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING STAFF
For many players, Monday marked their first workouts under the new strength and conditioning staff led by Richesson.
Those players might have been in for a surprise upon walking into the weight room as the new staff overhauled the team's training routine and replaced the majority of the existing equipment with new machines designed for their program and philosophy.
"For me, the time I've been around Luke, he's very disciplined and organized in what he wants to accomplish," Manning said. "We're kind of learning his plan and his game plan and trying to follow it. … He's on it from the get-go and I think guys will buy into his plan and hopefully we can have a good offseason in the weight room."
Decker said he enjoys the new philosophy that the strength and conditioning staff is teaching.
"It's just a different mindset," he said. "I think it's kind of new-age technology as far as how we go about getting our strength, getting our speed, getting our explosiveness. It's a completely different system that I enjoy, because I was in Arizona at API the last couple of years with kind of the concept that they brought. I think you just see that you build more strength. You build the core and the midsection, where a lot of that comes from is being a football player, and explosiveness is very important."
"I'm open-minded about everything we do," cornerback Champ Bailey added. "He seems to know everything, so I feel good about where we're going."