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Peyton Manning tells 'Late Show' he's still 'not at 100 percent'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning joined the 'Late Show' on Monday to talk with David Letterman about his 2014 season (as well as "OMAHA!" and Bill Belichick) and Dave, naturally, asked him how he felt health-wise.

Manning told Letterman that he's still "not at 100 percent" despite coming off a year where he set the record for most passing yards and most passing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.

"I'm not at 100 percent compared to what I was before my surgery. But I have made strides each season," Manning said. "And this year felt a lot better than I did the year before. These nerves just go at their own pace. It's not like it's going to have this immediate recovery one day. I had a lot of people who had nerve damage and told me any day you wake up and that's going to be the day.

"You talk about waking up excited every morning at 7 am and then being depressed at noon … because today's not the day."

Crazy to think that Manning put up the stats he did -- 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns -- while struggling with his health. It's a testament to how hard Manning works. He pointed out that following his injury and the surgeries, he didn't really know his own throwing motion because he "lost awareness of my arm in space."

"My dad always said I could throw a pass sort of natural. I could just pick up the ball and just sort of throw it," Manning said. "I'd always been able to do that and here I am 35 years old and I couldn't pick it up like I used to. It was weak and I lost the awareness of my arm in space. I used to sit in the mirror and go throw my throwing motion trying to get the feel back the way I'd always thrown before."

So how's he dominating now? Hard work to get back, physically, where he needs to be. And the best football brain in the game. Manning's become less like John Smoltz and more like Greg Maddux, an analogy he carried out during his "Late Show" appearance.

"I guess I would equate it to a pitcher," Manning said. "Maybe I can't throw the 100 MPH fastball anymore. But I can still strike you out by picking my spots and working the plate. I don't make the same type of throws that I used to make but I try to use the cerebral part and use my experience. I can still move the chains down the field and get us into the end zone."

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