|Decker is amazed by Manning's work ethic and attention to detail. (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)|
It's been three weeks since the Broncos signed Peyton Manning. The initial excitement has worn off (Tim Tebow is now the Jets' problem), and it's been replaced by this reality: will Manning return to full health in time to actually be Denver's quarterback next season? It was the same concerns some teams had as the Peyton Manning Traveling Circus began its nationwide tour days after the Colts and Manning parted ways.
Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, who was also Tebow's favorite target last season, has worked out with his new quarterback and has only laudatory things to say about Manning as both a player and a person.
"The guy's still throwing the ball a long time, throwing it great, hitting you in the right spot," Decker told ESPN radio last week. "He's such a perfectionist. If he hits you in the belly button, he gets mad at himself for not hitting you in the chest. It's unbelievable to be around a guy who has those standards for himself."
Decker, the Broncos' third-round pick in 2010, had 44 receptions for 612 yards and eight touchdowns last season. It's reasonable to think that those numbers will improve substantially if Manning returns to form in 2012.
"He's so precise with everything he does and there's a reason for everything he does do," Decker said. "In workouts, in the weight room -- I mean the guy's jogging from station to station. He's working like he's a 23-year-old free agent coming out of college. The way he talks about football, the way he runs drill work, routes, everything's gotta be perfect and there's no gray area. I think that, as a receiver, (it's) the best thing about it. You got a leader that demands the best out of you because he gives the best he's got."
The Broncos have added several offensive players via free agency to complement Manning's offense -- wide receiver Andre Caldwell and tight ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen -- but there aren't any plans to trade future draft picks to land a impact player in 2012. The Denver Post's Jeff Legwold writes that "Even with Manning, the team has to try to stay as true as possible to its edict to build through the draft, or the Manning era will only be the prelude to a crash."
And team executive John Elway, who was instrumental in getting Manning to Denver, understand this too. "We know we still have to build through the draft," He said. "We have to continue to stack quality draft on quality draft: I think that is how you sustain success."
Which explains why NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang has the Broncos taking a defensive player with their first-round pick -- it's a legitimate need.
Alternatively, Manning's 36. That gives Denver a two-year window to win a Super Bowl. The Broncos advanced to the AFC Divisional round last year with Tebow, and anything short of a Lombardi Trophy with Manning will be considered a failure.
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