Peyton Manning: I'm Ready To Go

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning spoke at length with the media following practice Wednesday as he prepared for the beginning of his 11th season. Manning reassured the media he was ready to play Sunday. See what else he had to say about this week's opponent, the Chicago Bears, working with the young offensive linemen, and how pro football has changed during his decade in the game.

On if he is ready to go this week:

"Yes, I'm ready to go. I'm glad the opening game is finally here. It's hard to believe there is a game tomorrow night. The Giants and Redskins play tomorrow night. We played in that game last year. I'm looking forward to playing Sunday night on prime-time TV, and it'll be a great challenge playing against the Bears."

On how much different the Bears are from the Super Bowl team:

"Just like we are. There's different personnel, although they really have a lot of the same guys on defense. They got a couple of guys back that were injured in that game, (DT Tommie) Harris and (DE Alex) Brown, which will definitely help them. They are still a very sound defense with their ability to create a lot of turnovers and being fast to the football. It makes you as an offense execute, be sound in what you do, really try to protect the football, so it'll be a real challenge to move the ball."

On if he thinks they can get the running game back to 2006 playoff form:

"It always helps to have the running game going. For us to be at our best, we want to be balanced. We don't want a team to put us in a one-dimensional mode. We want to be able to, on any down and distance, drop back and pass or run the ball or run play action and try to keep a defense on its heels. That'll be important, especially at the beginning of the season. You want to establish Joe (Addai) and Dom(inic Rhodes) in the running game. That usually opens up some other things in the offense."

On if there are things he can do to help young starters on the OL:

"I think, just like when any other injury comes up, the older, veteran players have to help them out. (TE) Dallas (Clark) has to help them out with some calls, (OT-Ryan) Diem, (OT) Tony (Ugoh) — who's still a young guy, but has been around for going on two years now — he has to help those guys and I have to do whatever I can to help those guys. Like you've heard Coach (Tony) Dungy say many times, we can't slow down because somebody's not in there. The guys who are the backups have to know the offense, have to know the checks, the audibles. We still have to be able to run our normal offense and that'll be the case this Sunday."

On what the opener will be like after missing the preseason:

"It's going to be different. I've used the term unchartered territory and that's what it's been all pre-season for me. I just hope to have a good week of practice this week and get back in the flow of things. Hopefully, I can go out there Sunday and play at a high level. You're somewhat in the unknown a little bit, but I can just go with what I'm allowed to do and this is the time I'm allowed and try to make the most of it. One thing I won't do is talk about what time I've missed or what's happened in the past. It's really irrelevant. But, this is an important week of practice from a preparation standpoint and for me to get out there and have a full week and run the offense and get back in the flow of things."

On if receiving snaps from someone different is a challenge:

"It's always a challenge. I had an old coach tell me that the number one thing on every play is to ensure the snap, so it's pretty basic, fundamental football. But, you do put a little more emphasis on it and try to be sure you get the snap. I feel we'll be in good shape in that regard."

On if it's important to get back in a game-week routine:

"That's what we are into. I'm still dealing with some rehab things that alter that a little bit, but that's just what I'm having to deal with right now. We certainly are in a heavy preparation mode, heavy film study. That's what I've always known from a preparation standpoint. I'll be able to continue that. That's the only way I know how to prepare, so hopefully that'll pay dividends for us."

On if he feels comfortable about going into his first game at Lucas Oil Stadium:

"I think I do. I think our team does. They've played in it a few times. Like I said, for me, the sightlines on the field, from the time I've been out there, look pretty similar to the old RCA Dome. The surroundings too, obviously, it's different once you look up, but I like that it's somewhat familiar that way. We certainly want to start it out on the right foot. A stadium is great, but it gets greater when you're winning football games and the players are playing at a high level. We have a tremendous challenge playing the Bears in the season opener. It's a brand-new season and we have some guys banged up a little bit, so everybody needs to raise their level of play. We hope it'll be loud. I think the fans will be excited. Hopefully, we can give them something to cheer about. But, I think once the game starts, the Bears nor the Colts are really going to be concerned about where you are playing, what's new and whatnot. Still, it's going to be a matter of the execution and hopefully we can do our job there."

On if everything is OK in New Orleans after Hurricane Gustav:

"I think so. I know towns where the hurricane hit. I'm familiar with the people of those towns and those areas, so I'm just praying for those people. Hopefully, the Saints will be able to get back OK and can play their regular-season opener in the (Super)Dome."

On what has changed during his 11-year NFL career:

"There have probably been a pretty good amount of changes. It's hard to think of all of them here in this brief amount of time. Players have changed, I guess. It seems like you don't have as many — only a couple of teams have the constant players year to year. The Bears seem to be one of them. (LB Brian) Urlacher has been there the entire time and the Patriots come to mind. Some of the other teams are in constant turnover in players and so you're constantly having to adjust. I've had to adjust to playing with different players in certain spots, but I think the overall game has been the same. Coach Dungy preaches it over and over again — the team that can protect the ball, the team that can eliminate penalties and play good on special teams — those statistics have held pretty true throughout the 10 years I've been playing. Those teams are going to win. At times, it's felt like it's flown by and at times it seems like 10 years ago was a long time ago. I still feel fortunate to be playing a game for a living here in my 11th year and it's something I've never taken for granted."

On if he prepares differently now as a veteran:

"My preparation, I feel like, has been the same. I've really prepared every single season, every single week, as if I was vying for a job, I was competing, I had to be sure I was doing my part to try to go out there and win the job or keep the job. I think as soon as you start losing that, that's probably when things are going to change. Maybe your play won't be as high, or maybe it's time for you to do something else. I still have a desire and a hunger to prepare. I look forward to driving over here every day and practicing and working hard and trying to get better. Hopefully, I can be a better player this year than I was the year before. I feel like I have in years past, because of my off-season work and the preparation. Hopefully, that can be the case this year."

On what this year feels like:

"I really think you're chasing (the Super Bowl Title) every single year. Even last year, we didn't really play the ‘defending' title very often around here. People used that, but every year is a brand-new year and this year it's wide open. Especially in today's era, it really is wide open. There's always going to be a team that nobody expects to step up that's going to have a great year. We have high expectations from outsiders and we have high expectations for ourselves, as well. We hope to live up to those. It really started back in March, but this is the first time we get to put it to display. Hopefully, we can get off to a good start like we have in the past."

On if Sunday's game will be special:

"I think for different players, it can mean something different. For me, like I said, it's my first game in quite some time, so I'm looking forward to that and getting any kind of kinks out of the way.

"I don't know if I'm really curious. I think this is the way it is, this is what it's going to be. I think the sooner we can get it to normalcy, as far as ‘Let's go play the game, let's go try to pick up some third downs and score some touchdowns in the red zone,' the better off we're going to be. Hopefully, that will be the case from the get-go."

On how crucial fast starts have been to the team:

"It's always been something that's been nice. I think you have to be careful putting too much emphasis on ‘This is what we have to do,' in case it doesn't happen, so you don't go into a complete, downward spiral. But, I think every coach wants his players to get off to a fast start and get some momentum, so that's our goal. But, it's still week to week. The thing we have done a good job around here is once this week was over, moving on to the next week whether it was a win or a loss. That'll be the key for us this season, taking it week-to-week, but we sure would like to get off to a good start."


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