Manning: Everybody Needs To Step Up

Peyton Manning talked the media on Wednesday in preparation for the team's game Sunday in Minnesota. He can often be overly critical of his own performance, but he stressed that the whole team needs to improve. Find out what Manning thinks about the Vikings, his young offensive line, his memories of Minnesota during Archie Manning's playing days, and more inside!

On the team having a loss this early in the season:

"The key is just how we respond to it. Sixteen teams are 0-1 right now. Hopefully, we can be one of the ones that handle it the right way and has a good week of practice. There are obviously some things we need to improve on. I think our biggest goal is everybody's focused on doing their job better. That collectively, should hopefully result in better overall team play. So, that's the focus. We need to have a really good week of practice and preparation. We have a real tough challenge going on the road to Minnesota."

On specific things the offense can improve:

"I think anytime you lose a game, everybody needs to step up their level of play. Offensively, we have to find a way to score some more points. Thirteen points is certainly not enough and I really feel like we spotted Chicago 16. We gave them a fumble for a touchdown, gave them a safety and then that 4th-and-1 getting stopped put our defense on the short field. Really our defense, the way I look at it, held them to 13, so we have to find a way to score more points than that. That's one thing we can improve on."

On if he was more critical of his performance Sunday since he missed the preseason:

"I didn't have much to compare Sunday's game to. It's not like I had a choice of whether I played in the preseason or not. It wasn't one of these, ‘I'm not going to play because I want to rest my legs.' It was a pretty good accomplishment in itself the fact that I was able to get out there and play. It went somewhat like I thought it would. I thought it would take me a quarter-and-a-half to two quarters to get hit and get a little bit of a feel going. I felt like I did after that first drive of the second half where we had a touchdown and then the next thing you know we had the fumble for the touchdown and the 4th-and-1 and the game was somewhat out of reach by that point.

"It's disrespectful to the position and to the NFL, for how difficult it is, to think that you can not only not play but not practice in the pre-season and expect to be at your top level in week one. It's too hard of a game and it's too hard of a job playing quarterback. Obviously, you don't want to tell the Bears, ‘Hey, I'm only going to be this percent before the game.' But, like I said, I knew I probably wouldn't be 100 percent for that game. Hopefully I can just keep working each week and get more and more comfortable. The main thing that I wanted to do as I was feeling my way out was not to put ourselves in bad situations with turnovers and things like that. So, I really tried to be cautious of that, throwing it away and trying to find a little comfort zone. (Sunday) will be the first game on the road and it'll probably be some of that again this week. Hopefully we can find a way to get some more points."

On the injuries to New England QB Tom Brady and San Diego LB Shawne Merriman:

"I hate it for both of those guys. I have respect for both of those players. I know both of them personally. I admire Shawne Merriman for trying to play, I really do. He was willing to sacrifice his body to go out there and help his team. That's commendable and I wish him luck in his recovery.

"I'm sick about Tom Brady. I don't watch it. I haven't really watched many of the highlight shows, but a couple of times I have had the TV on and they were about to show it, I don't look at it. I have been in contact with Tom. I left him a voicemail and we've exchanged some texts. I wish him a speedy recovery. I know he'll be back in probably half the time they say it'll take for him to be back. But, I'm disappointed about it because I know how hard he's worked. I hate for any quarterback to get hurt and have a major knee injury and miss the entire season. It's a shame."

On the danger of playing QB in the NFL:

"It's a physical game. Certainly there are dirty hits at times, but I didn't think the one on Brady was. I don't necessarily remember the time in Minnesota being one. You just go out and play hard and you hope for some good fortune and you hope you can stay out of harm's way.

"You sure can't go out there and think about it when you're playing. You go out there and you have to play football. Brady texted me and said it must not have been in the cards for him to stay healthy this year and he's going to fight hard in rehab and be back next year."

On if he watched the Colts game vs. Minnesota in 1997 that gave them the number-one draft pick in the 1998 draft:

"I didn't watch it on TV that year, but I certainly knew that game who they were playing against. I guess that had some bearing (on the draft position). (QB Kelly) Holcomb made sure they didn't win the game, he and (DT) John Randall combined. It's funny how those things work out. Jim Mora broadcasted the game, I remember him telling me that. That would've been in late December so that was before we (the University of Tennessee) were playing a bowl game so I wouldn't have been looking to see who was going to have the number-one pick. At the time, you are focused on finishing your bowl game, and a lot goes on between January and the draft. I guess things worked out OK."

On what happens if TE Dallas Clark is out Sunday:

"You have no choice but to go on. We tried to get some guys to play in the same position as Dallas in the draft, (Tom) Santi and (Jacob) Tamme. I think Dallas is irreplaceable because of his versatility, but you still have to be able to do those same formations and have the same personnel groupings in order to execute your offense. We sure hope he can go this week, but if not those other guys will have to grow up in a hurry and play fast, which has been normal for a lot of young players around here. There's not a whole lot of grooming process here. We pretty much throw them to the fire early. I think both of those guys have worked hard and they understand the offense and I think they'll do fine."

On the Vikings defense:

"They have really good players. They have excellent players. They're really solid up front and they're tough to run the ball against. The linebackers are all physical and the secondary is active. They're fast. You just don't see any weaknesses. They're well coached. (Defensive Coordinator) Leslie Frazier, who was here, is an excellent football coach. They are sound in what they do. If they don't give up that punt return (Monday night), they probably have a chance to beat Green Bay up there in Green Bay. They'll be disappointed being 0-1. We're disappointed and I think you'll see two somewhat angry teams on Sunday and it'll be a physical game."

On keeping the offense balanced:

"I know it's something that the coaches want to improve on. It sure would be nice. It certainly wasn't my anticipation in my first game back to have to throw it 50 times. We usually don't win many games like that. The coaches need to find a way to run the ball better, to find the right way to get (RB-Joseph) Addai the ball. We didn't do a good job of getting Joe involved enough the other night. We're a better team when Addai has his hands on the ball."

On running the ball if the rushing yards aren't coming:

"Obviously, the key would be when you run the ball to try to get yards out of it, but I still think Addai needs to get his touches one way or the other. I think he had 13 touches or something and I'm not sure if that's enough. I think we need to be creative in getting the ball to him more. He's definitely one of our best offensive players and one of the best backs in the league. So, we're better served to get him the ball more."

On if the Metrodome is one of the louder places in the league:

"I think it is. Like I said, I played there in the preseason. I've been to some games when my dad played there years ago. It has that history and we're prepared for that. Coach (Tony) Dungy has been there a lot. It sounds like it was real similar to the RCA Dome. I know they'll be fired up for their first game at home in Minnesota. They're excited about their team, as they should be. They have a really good football team. So, it'll be a tough place to play on Sunday."

On how C Jamey Richard played vs. Chicago:

"I thought Jamey did a good job, I really did. Considering the circumstances, not a lot of repetitions with me with the center-quarterback exchange and a very versatile offense that is constantly changing. He played against some good players. I was proud of the way he played and he really did a good job for us."

On if he is going to be OK now that he's through the first game:

"I certainly hope so. I took some shots and had some pretty typical post-game soreness, maybe a little bit more than normal considering I hadn't been hit since January. But, I'm certainly not out of the woods yet, by any means. I still need to continue to work, but I was encouraged that I was able to get out there and play, and move around a little bit and make a few plays. I still want to keep working to get back as comfortable as I possibly can."

On the noise level in Lucas Oil Stadium with the roof open compared to the RCA Dome:

"It's hard to ask me that when we play at home. You're probably better served asking one of the defensive players. Those guys are more conscious of it. Or, maybe one of the Bears' players that had played in the old dome. I don't really listen to the noise a whole lot when we are playing at home."

On his memories from when his dad was a Viking:

"I do have good memories there. I was eight years old and my dad always included us during his football days with New Orleans, but that was the oldest I was before my dad retired, so I probably remember a little bit more being there in Minnesota. I used to go to practice a lot on Saturdays, the same place the Vikings practice. I remember a lot of the players that were good to us. Joe Sensor, I think is still involved up there, who was a tight end. All of the players, (RB) Teddy Brown, (WR) Sammy White, (WR) Leo Lewis, good Viking players. I was eight years old, we had our favorite players. (Head Coach) Bud Grant, (Offensive Coordinator) Jerry Burns, they were all real nice to a little eight-year-old kid hanging around the locker room.

"It was a neat experience. We moved there in the fall of 1984. I went to school there and I remember I was real jealous. I went to a school called Tanglen Elementary, which fed into Hopkins High. They had fifth-grade football, so (brother) Cooper got to play fifth-grade football. I was the ball boy, the manager, in third grade. But, when we came back to New Orleans the following year they didn't have fifth-grade football back in our school, so Cooper got a big jump on playing football.

"(LB) Scott Studwell, he's still there with the Vikings, he was a player. Greg Coleman was the punter. I do have a good memory of a lot of those players, (S) Joey Browner, (RB) Darren Nelson, Steve Jordan the tight end, those were some of our favorite players. I had a girlfriend there in the third grade named Holly Anderson. I haven't been back there in 25 years, almost."
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