If there were reins on Peyton Manning, they were removed Monday.
After working on short-to-intermediate-range passes during the previous two organized team activities that were open to media viewing, Manning and the Denver offense focused on long passing during Monday’s 95-minute session.
“Every day you have some point of emphasis, whether it’s a screen one day or play-action one day, goal line, red zone, today was a deep ball — shots, they call them — down the field,” Manning said.
Any concerns about whether Manning’s arm strength would return after multiple neck surgeries appeared to evaporate on Monday. When Manning missed on his deep passes, the misses were long When he hit, it was breathtaking.
“I think he’s doing tremendous. Physically he looks the same to me as he’s always looked,” Broncos coach John Fox said.
Manning’s sole completion on five deep passes came to a familiar target — former and current teammate Brandon Stokley, who reached out to grab a 40-yard strike from Manning, beating triple coverage from Mike Adams, David Bruton and Chris Harris for the pass.
But on long passes, that’s a satisfactory ratio.
“When you are throwing deep balls, the idea is to take your shot. It’s not the highest percentage play but we’re going to keep throwing them,” he said.
“As they always say in a game, if you throw five deep balls and you complete one of them, that’s actually a great thing. I mean, you’re taking a shot and trying to send a message to the defense to hopefully back them off and that’s something we’ll continue to work on.”
Manning emerged from the practice knowing he still had work to do his his rehabilitation.
“The good thing about these OTAs is you really see kind of where you are on certain plays because you are making different types of throws,” he said. “So you’re learning a lot and you can know what to continue to work on even harder in your rehab and you know some things you may just not quite be ready for yet.”
Manning appeared ready for everything but a question about the incompletions during the OTA.
“I’ve never had to comment before on incompletions in practice before, so this is new to me,” he said.