Manning completed just four of seven passes for 44 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. It wasn't a stellar performance from the four-time MVP, but the big news was that he was actually on the field after more than a year-and-a-half away from the game.
The Broncos should just be happy that Manning got through the start healthy and didn't take any sacks. It's going to take a while for the 11-time Pro Bowler to knock the rust off, but he should eventually return to being himself.
But the fact remains that no amount of practice time or working out with his receivers will really replicate what it's like to be under center in a real game. In fact, he may need to stay in these preseason games a bit longer than other starting signal-callers just to get his timing and rhythm back and re-acclimate himself to the speed of the game.
We all know that Manning is one of the best to ever play quarterback in the NFL, but at 36, we can't expect him to be who he was five years ago. He'll be able to make plays and make the players around him better, but he will also lean on Denver's offensive line and running game for help.
This season will be fascinating as it relates to Manning. For the first time since his rookie year, he has a completely new set of offensive players around him. We will get to see just how much better he can make them and how much he needs them to make him better.
While his first preseason game wasn't pretty, once the bullets are real I'm sure Manning will be fine. He just needs to continue progressing throughout the preseason and get back up to game speed.
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