Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning isn’t given to excess sentimentality, but even he had to admit his first day of camp with a new team was a big deal.
For starters, the Broncos set a camp attendance record, and the fans weren’t there to see Derek Wolfe.
But for Manning, the return to the field after missing last season with neck problems obviously made it a good day.
“Did I miss playing? What do you think?” Manning said in comments distributed by the team. “I have missed it, and I’ve never taken it for granted to be out there playing. I had been playing for 13 years straight and never missed a game since I’ve been playing quarterback in the seventh grade.
“That’s a lot of consecutive games, a lot of Fridays or Saturdays or Sundays to be playing a game, so I’m glad to be back in more of a normal routine, in a practice routine, and I still feel like we have work to do before those preseason games get here.”
Manning said part of what made his new setting exciting was the simple fact of getting to know new teammates, even if they look at him like he’s their dad.
“I like being around our young players,” Manning said. “They’re all young compared to me, but I know [WR Brandon] Stokley and I were talking, and it’s fun being around these guys who are 22 and 23. It keeps you feeling young.
“It’s humbling at times when they say they enjoy seeing you play on ESPN Classic; that’s not exactly what you want to hear. But I do enjoy getting to know these guys, and that part has been fun for me.”
The fun’s likely to continue for the Broncos, so long as Manning holds up well enough to stay on the field.