ENGLEWOOD If Peyton Manning is sore, hes not saying.
If his arm is less than it used to be, well, he said, It is what it is.
Finished with his first practice after his first loss in Broncos blue and orange, Manning spoke the words of a quarterback who simply wants to move on.
Did the nine hits he took in the 27-21 loss to Atlanta leave him sore as he prepares for the Houston Texans on a short work week?
I dont really get into that, Manning said Wednesday. Ive never really answered that question before. So, Im full participation in practice.
What about the strength of his arm, which has been discussed and debated by everyone from John Elway who last week told The Associated Press its getting stronger but probably not where he wants it to be to the fan in the top row at Sports Authority Field?
I am what I am; it is what it is whatever expression is appropriate for that, Manning said. So, I dont know what to tell you.
As for those three interceptions he threw in the first quarter against the Falcons well, Manning said these things happen, but they certainly didnt diminish his confidence.
Its not deterred at all, if youre insinuating that, he said. Were still learning about each other. Were playing different opponents each week, live bullets, different types of defenses. The key is, you want to win games as you are continuing to learn.
That wont be easy this Sunday.
The Texans (2-0) have allowed a total of 248 passing yards, 392 total yards and 17 points over their first two games all league-leading statistics at this early point in the season.
Not exactly the type of team the Broncos (1-1) want to face on a short week after Manning got sacked three times and knocked down six more.
But instead of dwelling on the minuses from the last game, Manning took solace in the fact the Broncos bounced back from a 20-0 deficit to get within a score late. They lost by six points on the road despite committing four turnovers and creating none.
Manning took umbrage to any thought that he looked dejected on the sideline at the end of the game.
I think it was more of a determined look, he said. When you get off to a slow start, youre determined. Dejected means you go out there, you lay down, you get beat 35-0. So, determined, I think, would be the more appropriate terms, and hopefully, we can build off that.
Famous are the stories of Manning spending extra time on the practice field working on routes and building chemistry with receivers Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison in Indianapolis. Hes got a couple of hard workers in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, but theres a difference between the eight to 10 years he spent with the Colts receivers and the six months hes spent in Denver.
There is a process there, Manning said. I do think theres offseason work and theres in-season work, going against different defenses.
Also moving on is coach John Fox, who repeated the mantra that Mannings return to the NFL is a long-term project, not a two-week deal.
I dont think were a finished product yet, by any stretch, when you consider this is the first year that hes played in this offense and with these teammates, Fox said. There are going to be some growing pains, and it doesnt happen overnight.
A bit was made of the fact that rookie backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was warming up at the end of Mondays game, ready to be called upon if the Broncos had gotten the ball back with less than 30 seconds left and a long, desperation pass to heave. Not such a big deal, said Fox, who thought Mannings arm looked way better in the second half than it did in the first half.
Had we had to throw a 60-yard Hail Mary, we might go with a 20-year-old arm versus a 36-year-old arm, Fox said.
All of this the arm strength, the chemistry, the general rustiness from not playing at full speed for more than a season helps explain why Manning is getting somewhat of a break in the court of public opinion after a game in which he matched his worst quarter, interception-wise, in his 15-year career. After all, it was only one bad game. The bigger question, however, is how hell bounce back.
The quarterback isnt asking for miracles. And while not giving away anything about Sundays game plan, he stated one obvious area for improvement.
Weve got to get off to a better start, he said. It doesnt have to be a great start, get out and go, you know, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. But against a team like Houston, youve got to get off to a better start on both sides of the ball and kind of feed off one another. Once we got into the building (Wednesday), it was on to Houston, and I think theyre easy to grab your attention because of the way they play on both sides of the ball.