Peyton Manning still loves playing football. That much was clear when he surprisingly took a pay cut to stay with the Denver Broncos last month. It was on display again Tuesday, as the 39-year-old was on hand for the first day of the Broncos' voluntary workouts.
"I feel good physically, and the whole team, including me, is just excited to get back on the field," Manning said, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post. "We've been here a couple weeks, lifting and meeting, but it's always nice to get back on the football field."
Manning, who has led the Broncos to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons with the club, spent much of the early offseason considering his future. Denver's firing of John Fox, a mass exodus of assistant coaches and lingering physical problems that forced a downturn in production late last season all contributed to the uncertainty.
The Broncos subsequently hired Gary Kubiak, a longtime John Elway confidante and former Denver offensive coordinator, as its new head coach. Kubiak's system, which involves plenty of quarterback rollouts on zone running plays, has been viewed by some as an awkward fit for the stationary Manning. The 14-time Pro Bowler said he doesn't expect to have much difficulty adjusting to the new system.
"I like to think I'm pretty versatile, believe it or not," Manning said, per Jhabvala. "I feel like I can execute whatever plays the coach calls. I feel the different offenses I've been in, I've executed plays that the coordinators have called, and I feel I can do that."
When asked if he views 2015 with a sense of finality, Manning said he did not view the upcoming season as his "farewell tour," per Andrew Mason of Denver Broncos.com.
"I wouldn't call it that. That's not how I see it," the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes said after the first practice of the Broncos' voluntary minicamp concluded Tuesday.
That, at the very least, leaves open the possibility Manning could return for 2016, the final season of his five-year contract he originally signed in Denver.
That being said, the likelihood of Manning returning in 2016 depends on how things go this fall. Words are nice and everyone tends to be happy in minicamp. We'll see if things are as pleasant come December.
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