Evaluating Peyton Manning's first Broncos practice

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Evaluating Peyton Manning's first Broncos practice

From Comcast SportsNet
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- His passes were hitting receivers in stride and right between the numbers, not skipping off the ground or whizzing behind their heads like so many of Tim Tebow's. The Denver Broncos got their first real taste of Peyton Manning on Monday with a spirited, fast-paced workout, the four-time MVP's first full practice in more than 16 months. "It felt good to be out there. It's been a while for me," Manning said. "It's been about a year and a-half since I've been in uniform, been in an organized practice. So, it felt good to be out there. And it will be a good film to study." Monday also was the first chance for the media to get a look at the progress Manning has made since a series of neck operations sidelined him all of last season and led to his release from the Indianapolis Colts. And Manning looked great, showing zip and accuracy on his passes, comfort under center, complete command of his offense and no ill effects from the nerve injury that caused weakness in his throwing arm. "Man, it feels good to know he's going to be on my side because what I saw today, he's going to give us some good work," star cornerback Champ Bailey said. "And we might not see a quarterback like that all year." Manning became the most prized free agent in NFL history following his release from the Colts after 14 seasons. His signing in Denver led to Tebow's trade to the New York Jets, despite a thrilling run to the playoffs guided by the younger QB. The Broncos and a handful of other suitors watched Manning throw during his whirlwind free agency tour in March, but before Monday, reporters had to rely on his receivers for updates on his progress. Manning had refused to talk about it. "Well, you guys got to see him today," tight end Jacob Tamme said. And he looked like the Manning of old. His throws, most of which were intermediate, were strong and on target. His only deep pass was true, too, hitting Matthew Willis in stride before being broken up by cornerback Tracy Porter at the goal line. Watching his pinpoint passes zip around Dove Valley, one never would have guessed he'd been forced to take a sabbatical and go under the scalpel multiple times since his last game, a wild-card playoff loss to the Jets in January of 2011. "Oh, no. Absolutely not," Bailey said. "You know, it's not live, but from what I see right now, the guy hasn't missed a beat." Coach John Fox said Manning's "getting better every day." And so are the Broncos, on account of Manning's presence. "He definitely raises all boats, that's for sure, and that's not just with the young players, (but also) the veterans," Fox said. "We're excited where that is and what's he's done to raise those boats." Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas and the other young receivers have all been refining their route-running so as not to endure Manning's famous wrath. "Well, I think they're on their way," Bailey said. "Obviously, I want to help them as much as possible, try to sharpen their routes up and things like that, but one thing about them is they get open a little bit, they're open a lot to him. That's one thing that's a big difference this year." Manning wouldn't gauge the progress he's made in his two months in Denver, first during private workouts at local high schools and then at the team's training facility. "It's hard to say. I try to get better every day, you know, that's my goal and I really need to use this time," he said. "I do think there's a difference when you are on the field in helmets going up against a defense. Up until now, we hadn't been able to go against a defense. So, this will be great work for me going against Champ Bailey and Von Miller and Elvis (Dumervil) and (Tracy) Porter, Drayton Florence. "We've got three great cover corners to work against. So, until now we've been kind of throwing passes versus air, and you can work on your timing with receivers but it's a great test to go against these corners." Manning is clearly more concerned about ironing out the wrinkles in his new offense than what fans seem to be harping on: his health status. "I've always believed you develop your timing for your passing game in the offseason, I don't think you can just show up in September and expect to be on the same page," Manning said. "So, what a great opportunity for these receivers going against these corners. I mean, if you can't get better going against some of these top cover corners, then it's just not meant to be. So, it's a great challenge for everybody." Monday marked one signpost. Up ahead is putting on the shoulder pads, training camp, taking that first hit in the preseason. "There's no question it's a different mentality for me in these OTAs than it has been in other years because of all the changes," Manning said. "But I look forward to the challenge and I just can't tell you how important these OTAs are. I think they're important for everybody. But when you're a new player, on a new team, certainly coming off an injury, I think they certainly take added importance, and I thought today was an excellent start." Notes: Among the no-shows for the voluntary workout was DT Ty Warren, whom the Broncos are hoping takes a pay cut, and LB D.J. Williams, whose DUI case ended in a mistrial Monday.

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Prediction recap: Braden Holtby stifles Arizona

Prediction recap: Braden Holtby stifles Arizona

The Caps found themselves in a tight game in the third period, but a three-goal flurry led to the 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

Here’s a recap of the three bold predictions for the game.

1. Washington will not lead after the first period - Wrong

If you came late and saw the score was 1-1, you may have thought the Caps were looking ahead and got off to a bad start against a non-playoff team. That’s not what happened. The first period was arguably the Caps’ best of the night. It certainly was the most dominant. The game may have been won with a quick flurry in the third, but the Caps got off to a great start and lead Arizona 1-0 after the first 20 minutes.

RELATED: Capitals set a new franchise record Saturday night

2. Braden Holtby will allow one goal or fewer - Correct

Arizona had three shots on goal in the first period. Three. That’s not going to get it done against Holtby. The Coyotes made him work for it in the second and third period and finished with 29 shots on goal for the game, but if you spot Holtby a free first period, it’s going to be hard to beat him enough times to get the win.

3. Both teams will combine for fewer than five power plays – Wrong

This game wasn’t any more physical than I anticipated, but it was faster. That led to a lot of stick penalties. Both teams gave up a combined total of eight power plays on Saturday and all of them except Tom Wilson’s double-minor for roughing were stick penalties.

2017 Results: How does the saying go, one out of three ain’t bad? That’s definitely how that saying goes, right?

Correct: 37
Wrong: 66.6
Push: 3

MORE CAPITALS: Winnik comes up huge on a night when the Caps needed a hero

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Need to Know:Redskins starters quick hitters—Kelley, Lauvao top depth chart, for now

Need to Know:Redskins starters quick hitters—Kelley, Lauvao top depth chart, for now

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 26, 32 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 22
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 47
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 59
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 111
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 159

Redskins starters quick hitters—offense

QB Kirk Cousins—No need to worry about him; he has plenty of incentive to play well even if he remains a “lame duck”. His is long-term contract, wherever he may be, can be either enhanced or reduced by how well he plays in another contract year.

RB Rob Kelley—The word is that they like Kelley and that he will line up with the first team when the time comes for them to do such things. But it could be a “love the one you’re with” type of situation and if someone bigger and faster is on the draft board Kelley could find himself in a serious competition to hold on to his spot.

WR Terrelle Pryor—I’ve never been a big fan of the Wildcat formation but it may not be a bad idea to get Pryor behind center occasionally. He was a 57 percent passer the one season where he got over 150 attempts and in 2013 he had a 93-yard touchdown run from the quarterback position.

WR Jamison Crowder—His 126 receptions are the most for any Redskins player in his first two season in pro football and his 1,451 yards are the fourth most. The acquisitions of Pryor and Brian Quick should allow Crowder to stay in the slot where he is best suited to be productive.

WR Josh Doctson—Although he got extremely limited practice and playing time last year due to his Achilles injury don’t underestimate the value of time spent in meeting rooms and around the team. The point is that he’s not going to be a raw rookie out there. He could surprise some people.

TE Jordan Reed—Over the last two years, Reed’s stats project to 95 receptions for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns if he had played 16 games per season. Those aren’t just Pro Bowl numbers for a tight end, they’re first-team All-Pro numbers and, if they are extended over a decade or so, Hall of Fame numbers.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

LT Trent Williams—Speaking of first-team All-Pros, Williams had a great shot at getting those honors last year but he had that bump in the road in the form of the four-game substance abuse suspension.

LG Shawn Lauvao—He’s not a fan favorite but the coaches plan on having him with the first team. As with Kelley, if a better option pops up on the draft board Lauvao could find himself in a battle. The difference is that even is Kelley doesn’t start he isn’t going anywhere; the team may not want to pay Lauvao $4 million to be a reserve.

C Spencer Long—He didn’t allow a sack in 13 games until the Giants got one on him in the last game of the season.

RG Brandon Scherff—He also didn’t have a sack on his record all year until the season finale. The Redskins are hoping that 2016 was the first Pro Bowl season in a string of many for the 2015 fifth overall pick.

RT Morgan Moses—He proved his mettle by playing through an ankle sprain that would have sidelined many others. Moses suffered the injury the game before Trent Williams was suspended, forcing top reserve to play on the left side. Don’t be surprised to see him get a contract extension at some time prior to the start of training camp.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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