Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback
After missing the 2011 season while recovering from four neck surgeries, Manning signed with Denver as a free agent this past March and led the Broncos to an AFC West Division championship. At 11-3, the Broncos are in the running for a second-round home playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
“If there’s one guy that’s able to overcome what he’s been able to overcome, it’s that guy,” Weeden said. “The way he works. He works with 10 and 12-year olds and you’d think he’s teaching them to go play for the Super Bowl.
“He’s a football nut. He’s just so wrapped up in that and the way he prepares is second to none. The way he was able to overcome that, there’s not many guys that would. To come back and play at the level he’s playing, people would put him in MVP talks and rightfully so. He’s had a great year.”
Weeden met Manning at the Manning Family Passing Camp over the last couple years. Weeden served as an instructor at the camp, and got to work with “one of my favorite players.”
“I got to know him a little bit there,” Weeden said. “I think he’s not only a great quarterback, but one of the smartest quarterbacks to ever play this game. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him. He’s won games and not only that, off the field, he’s a standup guy and he’s what every quarterback kind of shoots to be.
“My wife (Melanie) said, ‘It’s pretty cool, after getting to know him you get to finally play against him.’ She knew he was my favorite player, but I can’t say it’s daunting. It’ll be fun. I’m excited about the challenge.”
Manning is a challenge because of his ability to get the ball out of his hand quickly and avoid the pass rush. He has completed 347 of 511 attempts for 4,016 yards and 31 touchdowns against 10 interceptions this year.
After following his career and working with him in the past, Weeden dismissed the idea that Manning’s throws have been affected by a loss of speed.
“Whether or not he’s got a cannon, he’s got plenty of arm to get it there, or else he wouldn’t be playing,” Weeden said. “His ball comes out on time and it’s always on target. He gives his guys a chance away from defenders. He’s one of the best at that, knowing when to let go. His timing is so good with those guys. He’s done that for years, him and Reggie Wayne, and Marvin Harrison was one of the best at it in his day.”