Manning's Objective is to Work with Younger Wide Receivers
INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning is focused on football.
For Manning, the Colts' nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback and three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, that means focusing during this weekend's 2009 mandatory mini-camp on not only playing his position, but also working with the team's younger receivers.
As for the Colts' coaching staff, Manning said he's letting others focus there.
"Do I feel like I'm playing a different role in the practices we've had so far? I really don't," Manning said Friday, the first day of the team's mandatory mini-camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I'm just trying to play good quarterback and focus most of the time on just getting with these new receivers and a new running back (2009 first-round draft selection Donald Brown).
"That's really what I'm kind of working on."
Manning, who last season won his third Associated Press NFL MVP award in six seasons, said it's his understanding that the situation around former offensive coordinator Tom Moore and former offensive line coach Howard Mudd is still fluid. The two retired last month because of pension issues, and Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay has said the two may return as consultants.
"The great thing about this league is one thing you better be able to do is adjust," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said Friday. "You have to adjust to so many different scenarios and so many different situations on a daily basis that it requires an open mind.
"In this particularly case, we have to be somewhat flexible."
Said Manning, "In my talks with (Colts President) Bill Polian and Coach Caldwell, it sounds like that's still somewhat to be determined what their (Mudd and Moore's) potential role may be.
"I know they (Polian and Caldwell) will handle it and we'll be in good shape."
Manning, who missed training camp and preseason last season after undergoing offseason knee surgery, said his focus in recent days has been closely with second-year veteran Pierre Garcon, rookie Austin Collie and third-year pro Roy Hall, as well as first-year veteran Taj Smith.
With veteran wide receiver Marvin Harrison – an eight-time Pro Bowl selection - released February in a salary-cap move, Manning said the third receiver role could be critical. And one of the aforementioned players likely will fill it.
"The thing I have really focused on is getting my timing down with those new receivers," Manning said. "That's really been my focus of the offseason, to really get my timing with Pierre Garcon somewhat close to what I had with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.
"Now, can we do that in one year? No, but that's my goal."
Manning said he has been encouraged in recent weeks by the productivity in practice. The Colts held three organized team activities sessions this past week, and after having Thursday off, they will practice Friday, Saturday and Sunday with Saturday's session held at Franklin College and open to the public.
Tickets are $10 and the session begins at 2:45.
"Now, we're on the field," Manning said. "We're working. That's what this time's about, being out there on the field and getting better. I have certainly spoken with Bill Polian and Coach Caldwell and feel I have a good grasp of what's ahead in terms of what we know right now as far as who's here. It was explained to me that there still is some unknown with Tom and Howard. We've dealt with changes in the past and I know we've won a lot of games around here.
"I feel we do know how to win games, so no matter how it all plays out I feel we will be in a good situation. Coach Caldwell will handle it and make the changes accordingly, and all I can do is focus on my job and to try to be the best quarterback I can.
"The work we've done so far this week and the work I expect to get done this weekend with the mini-camp really got me feeling good about things."