Brady, Manning set to duel again

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After a one-year hiatus, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will square off again at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

On Wednesday, Brady reflected on his longstanding friendship with Manning.

"He's someone that I've always looked up to and admired, and I respect the way he plays the position, and the way he works, the way he leads," Brady said. "He's been a phenomenal player. We played against him for a long time against the Colts, it seemed like every year. You see a lot of those games, and obviously I've learned a lot from him."

Coach Bill Belichick has been in New England since 2000, when Manning and the Colts were in the AFC East, and may know Manning's game better than any other opposing coach in the NFL. On Wednesday, Belichick repeated his normally effusive praise for the Broncos' quarterback.

"I think he has no weakness in his game," Belichick said. "He does everything well."

Belichick said that although the Denver offense is "95 percent different" than what it was last season under quarterback Tim Tebow, the system is "identical" to what Manning ran in Indianapolis.

"It's very much the same offense, from what some of the guys tell me," Brady said. "Obviously there are different players with different skill-sets and so forth. I've always really looked at that offense as kind of one to emulate because they've been so productive for so long."

Manning was coy, however, when asked if anything had changed in the system.

"I think for me to respond to that would be too informative," Manning said. "If that's Coach (Belichick)'s evaluation, that's his. It's new players that I'm playing with, there's new coaches, there's new things for me. So everybody can form their own opinion."

Added Broncos coach John Fox: "It would probably be close to moronic for us not to inject some of the things that he has 14 years of great play with into our offense"

Brady, 35, is the oldest player on the Patriots, while Manning, 36, is the second-oldest on the Broncos. Their younger teammates, such as Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty, have watched the two battle for more than a decade.

"You can tell, those guys, it's not something that just happens overnight or you can work hard for one year and then you just got it," McCourty said. "Those guys consistently (put in) a lot of work and a lot of extra time each year to kind of perform at a high level. I think they've kind of made that routine for themselves and they're able to execute that every year, year in and year out."

Mike Rodak is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com.