DENVER --The work is about to begin for the Broncos.
Monday marks the start of the club's offseason conditioning program. But quarterback Peyton Manning -- and four of his wide receivers receivers and a tight end -- got started a little early in North Carolina.
As has become a tradition, Manning took some teammates to Duke University to start honing their chemistry.
"It was good work at Duke," Manning said Wednesday. "We've got a good crew. We had Demaryius (Thomas) and (Andre) 'Bubba' Caldwell, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who we just signed -- it was good to get some good work with him. Those guys are in good shape and we had some good work."
"It was kind of a good kickstart to the offseason."
It's been a busy offseason for the Broncos' personnel staff, as a handful of free agents left Denver for other teams, while some new playmakers made their way to Dove Valley to join the squad.
Manning said losing former teammates is "the worst part about football," as "the business side comes into play."
But he's anxious to get to work with his new teammates.
"We added some great players," he said. "I communicate with them all. Like I said, I had a chance to throw with Sanders down there in North Carolina and I'm excited about playing with him. I know (Giants quarterback) Eli (Manning) told me he was glad DeMarcus Ware was leaving his division. He can no longer hit him and I'm glad he's on my team. (Aqib) Talib has been a tough player to play against so I'm glad he's on our team as well as T.J. Ward."
View exclusive photos of T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware visiting Dove Valley to sign with the Broncos. Photos by Eric Lars Bakke & Stuart Zaas.
Even more than those additions, the team will welcome back injured players the likes of Von Miller, Ryan Clady, Chris Harris Jr., Derek Wolfe and Kevin Vickerson.
Blending all that talent together will be an important part of the process as the club looks to get back to the Super Bowl -- and close the season with a win.
"Just because you were there last year in the game, it doesn't guarantee you anything," Manning said. "It does take a lot of hard work and sacrifice. I think forming that chemistry takes time. Certainly working together in the weight room is part of it. Talib getting to know Chris Harris; DeMarcus getting to know Vickerson and Wolfe and Von — the guys he's going to be rushing with; for me, getting to know Sanders. It's not an overnight process. That's something that we have done in the past. I think that's been a big part of some of the wins we've had, our offseason work and how guys have spent time together and put the time in together. I think you have to keep doing it every single offseason. I think we will do that and I'm looking forward to having a good season next year."
That work starts with the offseason conditioning program.
"You have to move forward," Manning said. "You have to kind of re-establish your identity of the 2014 team. The 2013 team, it was a good season in a lot of ways. There is no question it did not end the way we wanted it to but we have to find a way to build off that and take a step further -- try to finish. There is no question you have to kind of start over again and re-establish the chemistry on this team with all these new players."
"It's up to the players to put in the hard work in the weight room, in the film room and on the practice field to try and be a better team this year. That all starts Monday the 21st.