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Manning focuses on helping rookies at Colts' minicamp

INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning might be the NFL's star
pupil. This week, he's also been the Indianapolis Colts'
award-winning teacher.

The Super Bowl MVP has spent minicamp working with a new cast of
receivers, a little known running back and even had time to sneak a
peek at some of the defensive newcomers.

Peyton Manning Manning

To Manning, it's all about repeating as NFL champions.

"You know Peyton likes new people," coach Tony Dungy said
Thursday. "He's taken guys, like he did last year, and gotten them
comfortable here. He understands that's what football is all about
-- getting them in here and getting them ready so you have them when
you need them."

Manning has one more week to mentor his newest teammates before
the Colts reconvene in Terre Haute on July 29 for training camp.

But it's been an unusual script for the perennial Pro Bowl
quarterback.

Manning scrapped his customary routine of repeatedly throwing to
Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne so he could work more with draft
picks like Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall and undrafted free agents
like Trent Shelton and Michael DePriest. Harrison and Wayne did not
attend this week's voluntary program, choosing as usual to work out
on their own.

You know Peyton likes new people. He's taken guys, like he did last year, and gotten them comfortable here. He understands that's what football is all about -- getting them in here and getting them ready so you have them when you need them.

Colts coach Tony Dungy

Nor did Manning have to spend the month teaching a new running
back the Colts' system, as he did with Joseph Addai last year.
Instead, he tried to get more accustomed to playing with DeDe
Dorsey, Addai's backup entering training camp.

While some quarterbacks may not like this part of the job,
Manning seems to relish it.

"It reminds you of you when you were that age," Manning said
of the Colts' newcomers. "We work on all the little intricacies of
our offense because when training camp gets here, you don't really
have time for that. That's when the heads really start spinning."

The Colts finished the third of their four minicamp sessions
Thursday and return next week for four more days of workouts.
Rookies have another three-day voluntary camp in late July, but the
team won't get back together in full until July 29.

So far, Dungy has been impressed.

"There's an energy level here," he said. "We've tried to tone
back some of the drill work to keep our guys fresh. But when we're
going, we're working really hard."

Manning, too, has noticed.

He praised the work ethic of Gonzalez, the Colts' top draft pick
in April, and Hall, a fifth-rounder, and acknowledged these camps
usually provide a glimpse into what surprises could occur this
fall.

Without giving names, Manning believes he's already found a few
surprise players on defense.

"I think certain guys have some expectations starting out, but
you also have some sleepers and I've seen some of those on defense,
guys who have stood out to me," Manning said. "You know what
you're getting in Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall, but that's not the
case for everybody."

Next week also marks the end to the team's four-month victory
lap. The Colts will receive their Super Bowl rings at a private
ceremony Wednesday.

Manning, long criticized for his inability to win the "big
game" before his Super Bowl victory in February, said he will
savor the moment and might wear the ring until the team reports to
Terre Haute.

Then, he'll stow it somewhere safe as a symbolic gesture that
it's time to start over -- a cue he hopes the rest of the new
players follow.

"Getting the rings will be a good cap to last season and mark
the start of next year because it's a new season," he said.