Peyton Manning will make his Denver Broncos debut in their preseason opener against the Chicago Bears tonight and all eyes are on the 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback who hasn't played a single snap of live NFL football in 579 days after a nerve injury in his neck weakened his throwing arm.
Manning underwent multiple surgeries last year to repair that injury and 9News' Dr. John Torres discusses what that might mean for his game-play, watch that above.
But, the arm strength of the man who traded horse shoes for horse heads looked good at the Broncos' summer scrimmage last weekend in front of a record crowd of 41,304, silencing even more of any remaining doubt about his health and ability. That almost doubled the old record of 20,782 set back in 2010 when Tim Tebow was the big draw.
Questions do remain though and probably the biggest question mark is this: Will Manning feel as strong after his first big takedown? According to The Associated Press, Manning insists he'll be able to shake it off and get right back up, but no one knows for sure, but the No. 11 Bears may put that neck to the test tonight.
Bears Coach Lovie Smith told 7News that he's not having his guys go easy on Manning just because he's a beloved, newly-recovered all-star. "You don't play the game to hurt anybody at any time, but it's a physical football game. Our pass rushers want to get to the quarterback, whoever he is. I started with Peyton Manning his first year at Tennessee; we've known each other for a long time. I'm happy to see him back out there on the football field, but we need to play well against them."
However, Manning will likely see limited play tonight. Broncos vice president of operations John Elway told NFL.com that the number of minutes Manning plays will "come down to how much our first offensive line plays."
"I asked him the other day, 'one or two series?' I think you get a feel for it during the game," Elway said to NFL.com. "If things go well right off the bat, have a nice scoring drive, then get him out. You wanna get something going to where they have a good drive. You don't want to have three three-and-outs. You wanna get some confidence, get some first downs, and maybe put some points on the board. If we do that, get him out, and go to the next week."
The Denver Post's Mike Klis suggests that the Broncos should accomplish five goals tonight against the Bears including protection of Manning to give him the space to step into his throws which was occasionally limited by pressure during last weekend's scrimmage and, perhaps the most important of the five, at least to fans anyway -- let Peyton pass. Isn't that really want everyone wants to see tonight?
We're in the throes of Manningmania over here at HuffPost and are eagerly awaiting Manning taking the field, how about you? Are you plagued by Manningmania or still suffering from an incurable case of Tebowmania? Let us know in your comments below.