Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning says he definitely notices a difference from last year when he throws a deep ball.
“Yeah, I do. You know, I just feel like I can have a better idea of when I have to throw it,” Manning said to Peter King of Sports Illustrated. ” I can maybe hold it for a tick longer if I need to, to kind of see the [coverage] angle a little bit. Hey look, don’t get me wrong now, Demaryius Thomas is easy to underthrow, let’s put it that way. Even Aaron Rodgers might underthrow him. This guy can flat go now. Eric Decker runs well too. But, yeah, I have more knowledge of what I can do and how I feel. And then, also, you just have more knowledge of them.”
Manning says Thomas and Decker remind him of his former teammates in Indianapolis, Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison.
“You can’t get in one year what you had with great receivers like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne,” he said. “But we did make a lot of strides last year, because they played a lot, and those guys stayed healthy and practiced every day. I do not get into comparisons with the Colts, but the best thing about Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne is they practiced every day. They never missed practice. I remember talking to Thomas and Decker last year, and they would say, ‘Tell me about those guys.’ First thing I would tell them: ‘They never missed practice.’ I can’t tell you what that does to your timing. I mean, how many more reps are you getting?”
King asked Manning if Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gave him any advice on Wes Welker.
“I didn’t go there,” said Manning. “That’s a little awkward. Tom called me and told me how much I’m gonna enjoy him, that he’s one of, if not his favorite, teammate of all time. Tom just said how much he loves football.”
“After every throw, there’s a discussion. Like, ‘Hey Wes, that’s exactly what I was looking for’ or, ‘Hey, I really think I need one more yard and stick at the top.’ Then he’s going, ‘Hey Peyton, I’m gonna stem outside.’ You know, it’s the conversation. If you’re just throwing and not talking, I’m not sure what you’re really doing. Then, any incompletion that we’re throwing, we’re throwing it again. If you just go on to the next route, what are you really doing?
“A lot of guys go out and throw the route tree. Let’s throw one hitch, one slant. Well, let’s say you go 12-for-12. I mean did you really master the route? How about: Let’s go throw 12 hooks and 12 outs? Let’s go 12-for-12 on those. Let’s master that route. Let’s simulate press coverage. Let’s simulate zone.
“Another thing: Wes is a texter at night. You know, he’ll be watching film and he’ll text, ‘Hey, I just saw the film of that play from today. I’m gonna push [the defensive back] up two more yards.’ That’s great for me. Helps us get on the same page faster. As a quarterback, when you get a receiver who’s like that, I mean, that gets you pumped up about football.”