NFL Wire News

Broncos’ Manning center of attention again


The Sports Xchange

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has some experience taking snaps from under center. However, in recent years, he became accustomed to taking a majority of snaps from the shotgun, which helped maintain the offense’s tempo but didn’t always help add balance via the running game.

So, he spent the Broncos’ first organized team activity Wednesday running a majority of his snaps from under center. It wasn’t always elegant: Manning fell to the ground on one play, failing to adhere to the mantra of “Keep your feet” brandished on T-shirts given to the Broncos this week.

“The one thing the league always wants you to do is to keep players off the ground,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s the first one to hit the ground. We’re giving him a hard time.”

“I don’t remember that,” Manning deadpanned. “I’ve already gone to Steve Boxer, our video guy. It’s already been erased. That’s the advantage of being tight with your video guys.”

That was a minor hiccup for Manning, who looked comfortable operating under center throughout the two-hour practice. Manning will have more work like that throughout OTAs.

“That’s kind of the plan. We’re going to do that initially,” Kubiak said. “We know that the other end of the stick (shotgun) is fine; it’s something that he’s been doing forever. We’re going to spend a lot of time under center initially in our process and how we’re going to go about our teaching.

“We have kind of a nine-day teaching installation, so he’s going to be under there for a good three days before we move back. He’s been very responsive, and he’s working extremely hard.”

Added Manning: “I love being coached. I get angry when I’m not coached. I ask a lot of questions and certainly appreciate any insight and feedback. I think if you ever stop listening to coaching or stop asking questions, you probably need to be doing something else. This is the kind of time for it.”

The need for work under center is heightened by the changes along the offensive line, particularly in the middle. Ex-Raven Gino Gradkowski, acquired in an April 1 trade, and 2014 practice-squad rookie Matt Paradis will compete for the job, with veteran guard Shelley Smith a contingency plan.

Gradkowski started the entire 2013 season for Baltimore but spent last year as a Ravens backup under then-offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. With Kubiak now in Denver, Gradkowski became an attractive candidate given his knowledge of the offense.

“I think he moves real well,” Kubiak said. “I know he’s very bright. He knows our system. I knew he’d come in here and be very competitive from that standpoint. …

“I also knew he’d be a great teacher for Matt. Matt’s a young player who’s in a competition to be our starting center, and he’s not only going to get to compete against Gino, but Gino’s going to help him. That’s the type of pro Gino is. I think that’s real important.”

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business