Peyton Manning says arm is stronger than last year

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Peyton Manning hit 28 of 43 throws for 290 yards and three TDs with two INTs in the playoff loss. (USATSI)

Arm strength never has been Peyton Manning’s calling card. But when the 14-year vet didn’t challenge the Ravens deep in Denver’s playoff loss, talk about Manning being unable to make certain throws intensified.

Temperatures in the teens didn’t help. Manning, who had four neck surgeries in 2010-11, targeted receivers 20-plus yards downfield only twice. Joe Flacco went deep 12 times, most notably on the shocking 70-yard touchdown to Jacoby Jones that forced overtime.

Monday, as the Broncos gathered for offseason conditioning, Manning said he felt additional arm strength during five recent workouts at Duke University.

“I've made some improvements since last year, but still have a plan with the trainers, a plan with the strength coaches," Manning said, via the Denver Post. "I'm still in a get stronger, rehab mode. I'll be that way for a pretty good while."

In a Friday interview, Manning said he was better than he was in 2012 but "not quite where I was before I was injured."

Manning threw to wideouts Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and at Duke " data-canon="Denver Broncos" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0">under the supervision of Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe, Manning’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee.

Manning also said Monday he hopes the team re-signs Brandon Stokley, even though Welker was signed to replace him in the slot.

"In a perfect world I'd like both of them to be on the team this year,” Manning said.

Denver finished 13-3 and earned the AFC’s top seed last season as Manning won Comeback Player of the Year. He threw for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, and his average yards per attempt (8.0) was the third-highest of his career.

The season came to a sudden end with the 38-35 double-overtime loss to Baltimore.

Manning said he welcomed football operations boss John Elway's call for a different attitude this year.

"John Elway wants to sort of set a kind of attitude, kind of an edge around here," Manning said. "Kind of an uncomfortable atmosphere, which I believe in. Last year was good, but it wasn't great and we're looking for that great season and to finish off with a championship."

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