INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning had high praise for the Indianapolis Colts fans, his former teammates and Andrew Luck on a teleconference with Indianapolis media. He passed on talking about owner Jim Irsay.
Manning answered questions Wednesday while preparing for the Denver Broncos' trip to play the Colts at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here's a transcript of his group interview:
Are you looking forward to coming back to Indianapolis or is it just a business trip?
“Well, I feel like it has to be a business trip. It's a tough team we're playing. It's a very good defense that we're trying to get ready for. It may sound strange, but it's an unfamiliar opponent. A lot of guys on defense that I've never played against and even a lot of our players haven't played against. Certainly didn't play them last year, so, it's not like a division game or a team you played in the playoffs that you're a little more familiar with. Still getting to know them early in the week and that's the only way I know how to approach it. I can't tell you how I'll feel walking into the stadium and those type of questions because I just can't tell you. I can't predict and I've never been through anything quite like it. All I know right now is what I have to do to prepare and that's what I'm working on right now as of Wednesday.”
Do you know what the plans are to honor you on Sunday?
“I really don't know. I haven't been given any type of instructions or anything. As far as I'm concerned, I have to go out there and get ready to play the game as far as after introductions and those type of things.”
Do you expect to be nervous? Excited? Emotional? How do you prepare for that?
“Once again, I really can't tell you. It's just too hard to predict. I think I'd be wrong to try to predict or guess. It's certainly a unique game. I played against, somebody asked me earlier, is it the same as playing against Eli (Manning), and I said I guarantee Robert Mathis hits a heck of a lot harder than Eli does. From that standpoint, it's definitely different. I can't give you a good answer there. All I know is kind of what I have to do right now is great ready for a good defense. Boy, they're impressive to watch on film. Mathis, Robert is having a great year. It's really a factor. Offensive line has dealt with some injuries and so there's no question that's a challenge. They've got active linebackers and an active secondary.”
What did you think about when you saw the schedule and saw this game?
“Certainly I knew we were playing them based on the division rotation. When the schedule comes out, heck, the first thing I look at is who we're playing in the opener. Certainly a unique situation there having to play the Thursday night game at home with Baltimore's scheduling conflict. That's the first thing that I think you kind of key on. I knew certainly this game was going to take place because of the schedule rotation. But I didn't necessarily have any specific reaction once the schedule came out in April.”
What is your response to what Jim Irsay said and Coach Fox's defense of you? Any reaction at all?
“No, I don't have anything to say about either one of those.”
What have you admired from a distance about the way Andrew Luck has played?
“He's a heck of a quarterback. He played early as a rookie, which is always a challenge, but something I've always believed made a big impact on me and playing as a rookie. I know Eli (Manning) said the same thing. He sure did have a great first season and certainly used that first season to his advantage and he's off to a heck of a start this year.”
Did you talk to Andrew Luck when he got drafted by the Colts? Did you give him any advice?
“I did not. I did not. He didn't seek any, didn't ask any questions looking into that specific topic. As far as playing in Indianapolis for those fans, I can promise you he's a lucky guy, no pun intended.”
Does the body and the arm feel as good as it has since before the surgery?
“I guess I keep those things between me and my body. I will tell you that to compare to last year, dealing with a lot of change and still learning a lot about my body and then learning new teammates and a new system and a new culture, all those things combined can certainly cause for some discomfort and hesitation, whatever the word is. I certainly feel more comfortable this year knowing certain receivers, know the culture better, however I have to say, we still have a number of changes, playing with (Wes) Welker, (Julius) Thomas is a new starter, (Montee) Ball is a new running back and our offense has changed with a new offensive coordinator. In a lot of ways, there's still a lot of change that I'm still adapting to. But I have made some progress since last year from a physical standpoint. I will admit that.”
Do you think the game is going to be strange? Also, do you still come in early, get taped and read the program like you used to here?
“I guess it just depends on the program. They don't have the connections section in the Broncos manual. I've changed my pregame routine. I don't go out there. I stopped about the beginning of last season, stopped going out there real early. I guess I got a little piece of advice that at 37 years old, I probably didn't need to be throwing about 200 balls before every game before the kickoff even occurred. I've cut down on my pregame throwing. I don't go out there early like I used to for so many years. That's just part of being 37 I guess and adjusting. I get there when the first bus goes. I'll go in. I still get my ankles taped if that's what you were asking. I still do that.”
Do you think it will be strange to be in a different locker room?
“Once again, for me to predict, I just can't give you an answer. I guess I'll know a little more after the game. Not 100 percent positive I will share all that after the game, how I feel and whatnot. I certainly just can't tell you before the game.”
What has your relationship been like with Jim Irsay since you left? Can you get into that at all?
“No, I can't and I won't.”
Will you seek out Reggie Wayne and some of the guys from the old teams?
“Certainly. My thoughts on Reggie are pretty well documented. Are you giving me credit for writing that article on 1,000 catches or are you going to take credit yourself on what you're about to write (laughs)? I think you can tell from those comments how I feel about Reggie. I still certainly stay in contact with different guys, old players. I saw Bob Sanders out here at a training camp, talked to Edgerrin (James) and Marvin (Harrison) not too long ago. I keep in touch with Austin Collie. A lot of the old players. Like I said, I don't go out there very early anymore, so kind of once I go out there, I kind of have my helmet on and we're kind of doing a pretty stretch type routine. Just not sure whether the time permits all that. But certainly if I have a chance to, yeah, it's always fun to see somebody like Reggie Wayne.”
Have you ever played in a more dangerous or loaded offense than you are now?
“Well, I don't compare to any other year because it's just different. I guess I can compare it to last year, but this is kind of the second chapter of my football career and all I can do is kind of go off of last year. Some things are better, some things we're still working on. We still have a lot of things we can improve on. We got a lot of guys that are playing for the first time. We got a first-year center. Last week we finished the game with the right guard playing right tackle, so there's a lot on my plate from that standpoint and a lot on our team's plate that we still need to improve on and we're still working toward that. And like I said, you got Julius Thomas who hasn't played a lot of football, so you work every week to try to get on the same page with him. And Welker and I, yeah maybe we've thrown some touchdowns early, but we still are learning about each other. It's not like the timing that he and (Tom) Brady had playing all those years together. It takes an incredible amount of time, in my opinion, to get on the same page with a receiver completely. He and I started early, we had a little offseason minicamp down at Duke in the month of April, so we've used the time that the NFL has allowed us. But you're still behind from that standpoint, so you're trying to cram and get on the same page as much as possible.”
You've been in the league 16 years so I'm sure there's not much new that you see, but is this situation something that will be new and unique for you?
“Yeah, I mean certainly I think you could definitely say it's unique. I know other players have had to do it, and a lot of coaches have certainly had to do it. Like I said, I just can't give you a prediction. All I know is sitting here on Wednesday that all I know to do to be fair to my teammates, I got 52 other players and a number of coaches counting on me to be prepared and to be focused because we're playing such a good team and a tough defense in a loud, loud place to play. If this was a scenario where all I had to do maybe was come back and wave and smile and kiss a few babies and sign a few autographs, it'd be different. But somehow I got to figure out a way to stay away from Mathis and try to complete a few passes on (Vontae) Davis and (Antoine) Bethea and that's going to be tough because I think it's a tough defense. That's all I know to do from a preparation standpoint right now and all the prediction, the future questions, it's just too hard to answer.”