ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- 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 [Monday], 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 [Monday]," 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. "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.
Around the league
*The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have traded tight end Kellen Winslow to the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional draft pick and signed former Colts star Dallas Clark to replace him.
*With the Saints bounty case moving to grievance hearings and court, NFL owners will talk about player safety when they meet today in Atlanta. Owners also will discuss several bylaw changes, including designating one player suffering a major injury before Week Two of the season as eligible to return from injured reserve, and moving the trading deadline back two weeks to after Week Eight.
*The New England Patriots have announced that Wes Welker has signed a franchise tender contract. He led the NFL with 122 receptions and finished second in the NFL with a franchise-record 1,569 yards receiving in 2011.
*Texans star receiver Andre Johnson said that he will be out for three to four weeks after surgery on his left knee.