DENVER – Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said his team's lopsided loss in the Super Bowl will provide "fuel" when players begin offseason workouts next week.
"You have to move forward. You have to kind of reestablish your identity as the 2014 team; 2013 was a good season in a lot of ways, there's no question," Manning said. "It did not end the way we wanted it to, but we have to build off that and try to take it a step further, try to finish. There's no question, we kind of have to start over and reestablish the chemistry on this team with all the new players. That's important, and that really starts on Monday."
Manning met with reporters Wednesday for the first time since that 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and said he was encouraged by the moves his bosses made in free agency, including the additions of three new defensive starters.
But the arrival of defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward came at a price, as the Broncos did not re-sign a number of teammates to whom Manning had grown close since signing with the Broncos two years ago.
The group of departed Broncos includes three offensive starters and two defensive team captains.
"We lost some great players and some great friends," Manning said. "It's been a real pleasure to play the last two years with Champ [Bailey] and Knowshon [Moreno], Eric [Decker], Wesley Woodyard, Chris Kuper retiring, Zane Beadles has been great. ...That's the worst part about football, when you form some friendships with these guys and really put a lot of hard work in, and just the business side comes into play."
Manning is back in Denver and attending a series of community events, starting with Wednesday's annual sports breakfast for the Boy Scouts of America at which he is the keynote speaker. Thursday he will support his longtime friend and former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
Manning spent last week in Durham, N.C. working out with several Broncos teammates at Duke University in preparation for the start of Organized Team Activities next week. New Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders, signed to replace Decker, joined returning Broncos Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and Andre Caldwell in that throwing session.
"Everyone looks good, those guys are in good shape and we had good work," Manning said. "Good work for me, on my fundamentals going back to see coach [David] Cutcliffe, it was good productive work."
And Manning is hoping that will carryover into a strong offseason as Manning said it is important his team find a way to establish a new identity separate from the 2013 team that set offensive records but lost in the season's biggest game.
Still, the goal is the same: To be back in the Super Bowl next February.
Manning said the message from the front office last month is that they are committed to trying to return, and now it's up to him and his teammates to put in the necessary work on the field to get back.
"That's what I want to do. That's what the Denver Broncos want to do. I'm glad to be part of a team that's what they want to do. I'm trying to do my best to do my part, keep myself in good shape, get on the same page with my receivers," Manning said. "I feel I have a responsibility to the team to be on top of my game. That's what I think about every day when I go over there to work and lift weights and throw with my receivers is doing my job for the Denver Broncos. That's what I've tried to do since I've been here and will do until I stop playing, I guess."