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Peyton still not dialing it up deep

Peyton Manning

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton manning jokes with teammates as they take part in drills in an indoor facility after inclement weather forced the cancellation of an outdoor session atNFL football training camp in Englewood, Colo., Friday, July 27, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Broncos fans welcomed Peyton Manning to his first training camp in Denver with record attendance and all kinds of excitement. He has energized the organization and its fan base. But as we alluded to in our Denver Broncos season preview, unanswered questions about the 36-year-old quarterback remain.

Manning, who underwent four separate neck surgeries between March 2 of 2010 and September 9 of 2011, didn’t do a whole lot of deep-ball passing in OTAs and minicamps. In early July, Mike Klis of the Denver Post guessed Manning was 85 to 90 percent healthy, before suggesting Peyton might never rediscover the remaining 10 to 15 percent. Manning’s arm strength is a question mark, and he hasn’t answered it yet in training camp.

“Manning has looked better than most people believed he would so far,” ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported on SportsCenter Monday morning. “But here is a little bit of context: Yes, he’s looked good at the line of scrimmage. His balls have had zip. And the majority of them have been caught. But most of those balls have been short and intermediate, with only a handful of them long.”

Manning is on a pitch count in camp, and it sounds like one of his limitations is a cap on deep-ball tries. So while the entirety of Denver is thrilled with its new quarterback, fans and league observers may not know the extent of what remains in Manning’s tank until he plays extensively in a preseason game.

The Broncos’ exhibition opener is set for Thursday, August 9 at Chicago.