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Denver Broncos OTAs: Week in review

February is long gone at Dove Valley, but that doesn't mean players have forgotten it, just been forgiven. As Jack Del Rio said, "it's an exciting time of year!"

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Green footballs, no gloves, exciting new talent, hungry returners.

Whatever your favorite story line from the first three days of OTAs, it's clear February is long gone at Dove Valley.

Thank you God for letting football start again.

But don't think that means the Denver Broncos have forgotten the Super Bowl disaster, just that they have forgiven themselves and are ready to move on as a stronger, faster, maybe even a little meaner team in pursuit of awesomeness.

"I think a lot of guys have been excited for this day," said Mr. Awesome himself, Peyton Manning. "Finally get to put on jerseys and helmets, and it's great to see a lot of guys back out on the practice field."

Just having Ryan Clady back from injury practicing with the offensive line was like Christmas to Manning.

"That's like signing a free agent or having a top pick in the draft," Manning said, noting the team stepped up in the face of Clady's absence last year, "but it is certainly nice to have him back."

There has been much speculation about the placement of Orlando Franklin and Chris Clark, and Manning pointed out that now is the time to experiment with those players at left guard and right tackle.

"But [Franklin] will be on the field, and as a quarterback, I certainly like having Orlando on the field," Manning said. "He makes the quarterback feel comfortable back there."

Although these workouts are voluntary, last year's league MVP noted the workouts are a crucial time to get to know the schemes and each other.

"You really couldn't have enough OTAs because the season opener will be here before you know it," Manning said, adding that newly acquired wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders has been at the workouts the entire time. "He's worked hard. He's asking a lot questions. I'm sure his head is spinning a little bit ... but I appreciate his work ethic and he's certainly a talented player."

Sanders, who has been on the losing end of a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers, appreciates the love he's getting from his new teammates but isn't resting with that.

"At the end of the day I still have a lot of work that I have to put in. It's early. It's OTA's right now. I'd be lying to you if I told you that I know the playbook," Sanders said. "My head is still spinning a little bit but, I'll tell you what, I'm happy and excited to be a Denver Bronco."

And it appears that Manning himself is getting stronger - just ask another humble super star, Demaryius Thomas.

"I think he's picked up where he left off last year," Thomas said. "I know I had a pass today that I dropped. I really don't drop a lot. But it came up on me quicker than usual. He's just amazed me with some of the things that you see every day on the field."

But if you think Manning is excited about his tougher offense, ask him about the guys on defense who he won't have to face elsewhere in the NFL.

"I'm excited to play with (Aqib) Talib. I'd much rather play with him than play against him, I'll say that," Manning said, adding that he thought the former Patriot was the toughest corner he faced last year.

Bringing former Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Ware to the Broncos was also a welcome addition, according to Manning. "Eli was not disappointed that DeMarcus was leaving the NFC East."

The respect goes both ways. Ware, who is one of the top pass rushers in the NFL, made sure Manning didn't get the best of him in a bootleg play that fooled the Pro-Bowler last season when the Broncos beat the Dallas Cowboys.

"It didn't work this time," Ware said, laughing. "So it was funny. That's just what he does. When you have a captain like that, you want to play for him."

But Ware isn't keeping his secrets to himself. He has found an additional role with the team by helping his fellow defensive backs do what they do better.

Even a veteran like Terrance Knighton is getting some tips.

"It's great, because he adds a lot of knowledge to the game," said Pot Roast. "When you have a guy on your defense who has over 100 and whatever sacks, obviously he has some pointers to help guys."

More than anything the OTAs proved that both the offense and defense want to get better because despite last season's many successes, it still wasn't good enough, and it appears everyone on the team gets that.

"It's always exciting to start over," said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. "When you have a collection of guys coming back like we do ... and a very talented group that we brought in-free agency and draft picks... getting all of those guys back out on the field, it's an exciting time of year."

Boy is it ever!