Peyton Manning himself has admitted that he's had a thigh issue for weeks now. But for those who thought the injury was much worse than he and the Denver Broncos were letting on, it sounds like it was.
ESPN is reporting that multiple sources inside the organization at Dove Valley have said that Manning has played through a torn quadriceps for the last month.
It makes sense. Including last night's home playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Manning has not looked like himself down the stretch. He's never been the most mobile of quarterbacks, but has performed even more statue-esque of late.
And for a guy who has endured four neck surgeries, his arm is not as strong as it once was. Manning needs the full range of motion of his entire body, in order to get the ball where it needs to go.
Having the full stability of his legs and lower body is paramount. He needs the torque provided by the feet/legs in the mechanical process of winding up and releasing down-field.
Manning went just 2-12 on passes that traveled at least 15 yards down-field yesterday. But that wasn't the only issue.
Last night, he scrambled right on a third down play and could have picked up the first down with his legs, no problem. He had at least 15 yards of daylight ahead of him.
Instead, Manning chose to throw a low percentage pass to the right sideline, which Emmanuel Sanders was unable to haul in with both feet in bounds. The Broncos were forced to punt.
ESPN reports that the team doctors were well aware of Manning's torn quad, suffered on December 14th vs. the San Diego Chargers, but that Manning went to great length to keep the full extent of the injury under wraps.
If true, it explains a lot. But does not absolve him of his horrendous performance last night vs. the Colts. If he was truly crippled by the injury, perhaps he should not have played.
Manning said post-game that his thigh felt "pretty good" going into the game. Still, he wasn't 100% and his 38 year old body doesn't heal at the same rate as it did when he was a young man.
Manning has already stipulated that his health will be a determining factor in whether he returns in 2015. But with possible coaching changes on the horizon, it will likely be one of many.
The Broncos are vehemently denying that Manning had anything more than a quad strain. But it bears mentioning that of course they would deny it. It defies the league rules on injury reporting. Why pay the fine if you don't have to?