Fox on Manning: 'Blessed to have him'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - John Fox has long been known as a coach who preferred to play with veteran quarterbacks.

He had success with Jake Delhomme in Carolina, and that was one of the reasons Kyle Orton started over Tim Tebow at the beginning of last season in Denver. Fox is hours away from beginning training camp practice with one of the best quarterbacks of all time, as his Broncos enter the Peyton Manning era Thursday morning.

As he met with the media Wednesday, Fox’s excitement was evident. Yes, Manning, 36, is coming off a neck injury that kept him out of the 2011 season, but Fox is positive that Manning is ready to lead Denver after what he has seen from him in the offseason.

“Peyton’s done everything humanly possible, both physically and mentally, to get ready for this,” Fox said. "He’s excited. The rest of our team is excited. He’s a tremendous competitor and we’re very blessed to have him.”

Fox said Manning continued to make progress working on his own in the five weeks since organized team activities ended. Indeed, Manning has made strides each month since signing with Denver.

“I think, physically, he’s made tremendous improvement,” Fox said. “I’m not sure I’ve been around a player with as intense of a work ethic as him, both physically and mentally. He’s worked very hard and didn’t take the last five weeks off by any stretch. By all indications, he’s made great progress and we’re happy with where he is.”

The Broncos kept Manning on a pitch count of sorts during the offseason, and Fox indicated Wednesday that firm limits will be necessary in camp.

“We haven’t really gotten too deep into that now, and I think he’s pretty strong,” Fox said. “At some phase of camp or the season, typically, that does occur.”

Make no mistake, Fox is counting the days until he can unleash Manning in the season opener Sept. 9 against visiting Pittsburgh.