Peyton Manning is attempting to come back from a neck injury that kept him off the football field for over a full season.
After suffering from pain in his neck and weakness in his throwing arm in May 2011, Manning decided to undergo surgery to correct the problem. Manning had reportedly been suffering from these symptoms since 2010.
However, the initial surgery failed to alleviate the problem and Manning underwent either two or three additional surgeries, depending on whom you choose to believe.
So should Bronco fans be worried? The franchise did give Manning a five-year contract with a reported 96 million dollars. That is a ton of money for a player who may not be fully recovered.
Here are some things that may cause Bronco fans' stress level to rise.
The neck is such a delicate area that even the doctors are unsure of the results.
If you doubt the above statement you may want to ask yourself, "why did he have more than one surgery?" If the doctors are completely sure of the results, there isn't a need for further operations.
And keep in mind that these doctors are the same people who said he is cleared to play.
The fact is, no one knows.
The NFL is so tough.
It isn't that defenders are going out of their way to hurt Manning. They don't have to. The goal of every defense on the Broncos' 2012 schedule will be to hit Peyton Manning. That isn't personal. That isn't prejudiced. That is just the harsh reality of a violent sport.
You also have to consider that Manning has been out of the game for a full season. There is going to be rust. It will not be easy.
Don't believe me? Here is what Manning himself had to say:
"...in some ways it's almost disrespectful to the game to say you can not play for a year and come back and expect it to be easy. The NFL is supposed to be harder than that. It is harder than that."
Manning's offensive line has to be great.
This isn't to say they won't be. It is simply saying they must be. The offensive line gave up 42 sacks last year. And while you can make the argument that Tim Tebow's playing style inflated those number somewhat, you can't help but worry what even 30 sacks this season could mean.
The backup quarterbacks are not ready for prime time.
One need not look any further than Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers to see this. In the first quarter, the Broncos' offense with Peyton Manning looked nearly unstoppable. For the next three quarters, the Broncos' offense struggled to even gain a first down. If Manning isn't in the lineup it could be a nightmare season for the Broncos and their fans.
So knock on wood, cross your fingers, or light a candle. Use whatever good luck charm you want but make no mistake—the 2012 Denver Broncos need a healthy Peyton Manning in the lineup.