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Manning says learning new offense humbling

Associated Press Modified: September 9, 2012 at 10:48 pm •  Published: September 9, 2012
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Peyton Manning baffled defenses for years by using strange words such as "ice cream" and "soul train" at the line of scrimmage.

The four-time NFL MVP is struggling to grasp a new language now, though it didn't show in his debut with Denver.

"That's been one of the hardest things, learning new terminology, new formations," Manning told Tony Dungy on NBC's "Football Night in America."

Coming off four neck surgeries that sidelined him all of 2011, Manning made a triumphant return Sunday night with his new team. Manning threw two touchdown passes to lead the Broncos over the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19.

Manning, who is known for masking his emotions, was surprisingly candid in a pregame interview with Dungy, his former coach in Indianapolis. He said he's "not even close" to being settled in Denver and always thought he'd play for one team.

The biggest adjustment for Manning has been understanding the offense.

"As you know, in Indianapolis we kind of had a unique language, and it didn't carry over to any other team," Manning said. "So that's been humbling for me. A lot of times these coaches do a double take and say, 'I thought you were supposed to be this smart quarterback. How come you keep having to run it again?' But there has been no carryover. That's presented a challenge, but that's a challenge I've embraced."

Manning was considered a maestro on the football field with the Colts. He was a master at dissecting defenses and changing plays at the line. Manning had an odd way of calling audibles, putting on a show with his gyrations, finger-pointing and foot-stomping.

It may take him a while to be that animated in Denver. But even a tamer Manning can be successful.

"I always thought I'd play for the same team the entire time, but I'm still going through the transition process," Manning said. "Everybody keeps asking me, 'Are you settled yet? Are you settled yet?' Really, not even close."

Manning spent 14 seasons with the Colts, and led them to a Super Bowl title with Dungy on the sideline in 2006. He became the most prized free agent in NFL history when he was released in March.

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