“If he stays healthy.” Those four words have been uttered all off season and into training camp.
Peyton Manning’s health is without a doubt a major factor in the Denver Broncos’ success this season. It’s not just fans that are saying it.
“I just hope he can stay healthy,” former Broncos wide receiver Larry Brunson said Thursday night at the Barrels of Love Foundation silent auction.
Former Broncos offensive tackle Dave Studdard played for the team from 1979 to 1988, and he thinks Manning’s health isn’t in jeopardy as much as people think.
“I really don’t have a problem with Peyton getting hurt,” Studdard said. “I think if they can block for (Tim) Tebow, they can block for Peyton. They probably have 2.2 seconds opposed to five seconds…I think it’s going to be a fun season. I don’t see anything less than 11-5.”
Bucky Dilts punted for the Broncos from 1977 to 1978 and he thinks Studdard is on point with his prediction.
“I say they’ll win 11 or 12 games,” Dilts said.
With these predictions of winning 10+ games, Manning’s neck is has to be the focus. That’s why after Thursday’s practice Tom Jackson of ESPN asked Manning if he was worried about taking a hard hit to the neck.
“I have no concern over that. I’m not begging James Harrison to blindside me by any means, but I feel I’m going to be able to handle that. I’ll pop right up and move on to the next play, so James, don’t take that as a challenge now. Go easy if you can. That is not a concern for me in any way.” – Peyton Manning (ESPN)
You can watch more of Jackson’s interview with Manning here.
The things that Manning said indicate that he won’t be a quarterback playing scared. Why should he? He gets the ball out so fast that the Broncos’ offensive tackles are going to be loving life. It will be a complete 180 from last year, and one that puts the Broncos high on everyone’s list to make it deep into post-season play…”If he stays healthy.”