Manning 'could play tomorrow'

Head coach John Fox of the Denver Broncos speaks after the news conference announcing the signing...

Head coach John Fox of the Denver Broncos speaks after the news conference announcing the signing of quarterback Peyton Manning. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images/AFP)

THE SPORTS XCHANGE

, Last Updated: 1:13 PM ET

Quarterback Peyton Manning is healthy enough to play right now, but he’s not 100 percent recovered from four neck procedures in a 19-month span and Broncos coach John Fox equated it to similar situations with other players rehabbing from injuries during the offseason.

“I’ve got a lot of guys rehabbing in our locker room from injuries a year ago,” Fox said at the owners meetings Tuesday. “It’s very common in late March to have guys rehabbing getting healthy for the season, and he’s on that list.”

Fox said it took him about three minutes to call Manning after the 14-year veteran was released by the Colts on March 7. Manning visited the Broncos first in his free agent tour, and Fox admitted it was an ”emotional rollercoaster“ of going through the process and waiting for the quarterback’s decision.

Fox had the benefit of knowing Manning a bit through a mutual friend at a golf club in Charlotte, and had talked with him several times through the years at Pro Bowls and other events.

And when Manning made the phone call March 19 to inform them he wanted to sign with Denver?

”I guess I had a vertical leap and you could have slid a paper underneath it,“ said Fox. ”It was very exciting.”

Bringing in Manning means the Broncos will make another major shift to their offense after tailoring the play-calling to Tim Tebow’s strengths last season. But Fox said the process will be helped immensely considering Manning’s vast experience.

“Peyton is like a coach on the field. He paints a great picture, he’s going to direct traffic as well as maybe anybody in the league,” said Fox. “That’s that experience I was talking about whereas our quarterback a year ago, it takes time to develop that. Peyton’s been through those trenches so he knows, as I think John (Elway) said he’ll raise all boats. He’s very helpful, he’ll speed the process, but he has that capability.”

The biggest question is when Manning will be ready to take the field with the Broncos. He’s continuing his rehabilitation and working with the team’s medical staff, but the collective bargaining rules prevent him from taking part in any team-organized on-field work until May.

That’s why the Broncos did their due diligence in flying to North Carolina to watch Manning go through throwing sessions with Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who was Manning’s offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee.

“There was a comfort level there, (Cutcliffe) offered some security there and there’s a lot of gurus there at Duke from the science aspect of it so he had good facilities and good direction and from what I saw it definitely paid off,” said Fox.

Asked what he’ll do with Manning now, Fox deadpanned: “Play him.”

 


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