Peyton Manning didn't have much trouble shredding opposing defenses in his return to the field in 2012, but if recent comments are any indication, he could be primed to do even more damage in 2013. On Monday, the Denver Broncos quarterback joined Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan of Sirius XM Radio to talk about his continued recovery from a neck injury that kept him off the field in 2011.
"When a defensive back like Chris Harris -- who I practice against every day -- when he says 'Boy, the ball is getting there a little quicker, I have a little less reaction time,' I really value that feedback," Manning said. "It's hard for me to tell, but when I hear a receiver say 'Yeah, that ball was there sooner than it was last year,' that's a good thing."
Now, nearly two years removed from a cervical fusion procedure that effectively ended his career with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning told Ryan and Kirwan that he's starting to see continued improvements in his arm strength in practice.
"Last year, maybe I did have a little bit more limited range," Manning said. "I could throw the deep ball, but boy it had to be on time. Now I feel like maybe, if there's bump and run coverage any, maybe move out of the pocket because there's an inside rush, you can still move and still let it go and hit that guy."
An improved version of Manning can only be a scary thought for opponents after the Broncos finished the 2012 season with the NFL's best record. Leading the way was Manning with 4,659 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and a 105.8 quarterback rating, the second-best of his career.
Couple that with another year's worth of work with the Broncos receivers and Manning could be primed for dominance in 2013.
"I do feel better and I think it's because I have better familiarity with my receivers," Manning said. "When you know how Eric Decker is going to come out of a route or how Demaryius Thomas is going to come out of a break, you should throw the ball with a little more confidence which, hopefully in turn, should have a little more heat on the ball, getting there sooner.
Manning threw just four passes in the Broncos' preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers, completing two for 13 yards. The team is scheduled to host the NFL Kickoff event with a Thursday night game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 5.