Welker, not Colts the main topic of Peyton Manning’s pre-game hype

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ENGLEWOOD, CO – About 11 months ago, the word Colts and Manning would be mentioned together in every question and answer when it came to Denver’s quarterback.

That’s expected and fitting. After all Peyton Manning was playing his former team for the first time since being released by them on October 20th-an unceremonious end to a decade-long relationship between quarterback and franchise.

Fast forward to Wednesday and the Broncos’ Englewood training center where Manning faced the very same press to talk about the same opponent he did last October.

This time, however, the talk was about something else-or someone else to be more specific.

“I guess I wasn’t shocked. I guess I had an idea that it might be happening and was somewhat prepared for it,” said Manning when he was asked about the suspension of wide receiver Wes Welker.

He was suspended four games for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, which is reported to have been amphetamines. The decision was rendered just five days before the Broncos’ Sunday night opener against the Colts, forcing the team to adjust quickly on the fly.

“I think it falls on a lot of people,” said Manning of replacing Welker. “I think it’s easy to say one person has to step in and fill that gap but I really feel it’s maybe ‘next men up,’ if that makes any sense. Its’ kind of a plural thing, in this case a lot of people have to step up, raise their level of play.

“When you don’t have one of your best players, a guy that’s one of your top contributors, I think it falls on more than just one person.”

Oh yeah, there is also the whole facing the Colts angle which was addressed in only one answer from Manning during his Wednesday news conference. The quarterback did acknowledge that the game is different from last year when Manning played his first game back in Indianapolis since his release-a 39-33 loss to the Colts.

“I think it’s a little different playing here at home. Regular season, season opener, it doesn’t get much bigger than this aside from the post season,” said Manning. “I’ve always said opening day, opening night, is a playoff-type atmosphere. I am tired of talking; I am looking forward to playing some real football. I think it’s an honor, three years running the Broncos have played on the Sunday Night Football primetime game.

“Two years ago, Pittsburgh, here last year, and with the Baltimore home game fiasco we were able to play them here, which that was fine with me.”

When Manning starts the 2014 season against his old team he’ll be trying to best perhaps his finest season in the NFL. In 2013 Manning threw a career-high 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards with a 115.1 quarterback rating in helping the Broncos to an AFC Championship.

These are number that Manning put up when he was 37 years old. So is the NFL’s style of play make it easier for quarterbacks to play longer or is the quarterback’s preparation the reason for his late career success.

“I guess I haven’t studied it as a whole by the position. I still think it’s kind of an individual thing,” said Manning of sustained success. “I’m not sure how the rule changes are necessarily going to impact longevity of quarterback’s careers. It’s still up to the individual to take care of yourself and to produce.”