Manning brothers return for workouts at Duke
For the second spring in a row, the Manning brothers have brought the NFL to Duke.
After holding extensive workouts at Duke a year ago while recovering from a career-threatening neck injury, Peyton Manning brought his younger brother, Eli, along with six wide receivers from their respective teams to work out on campus this week.
Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos quarterback, and Eli Manning, the New York Giants quarterback, went through drills under Duke coach David Cutcliffe’s tutelage along with their teammates and a group of former Duke players.
The daily workouts began on Monday and will wrap up this morning on Duke’s Brooks Practice Field.
The Mannings organized the sessions to get in extra work while staying in compliance with collective bargaining agreement the NFL and its players signed in 2012. The rules limit the amount of Official Team Activities (OTAs) players can participate in under team supervision.
Accompanying Peyton from the Broncos are receivers Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker. New York Giants receivers on hand include Victor Cruz, Louis Murphy and former North Carolina star Hakeem Nicks.
Welker, a five-time Pro Bowl pick during his career with the New England Patriots since 2007, signed a two-year, $12 million free-agent contract with Denver this offseason. This week’s workouts are the first time Peyton Manning and Welker have had a chance to work together.
Eli Manning is working with Cruz even though the standout receiver isn’t under contract with the Giants. Cruz is a restricted free agent whom the Giants hope to retain.
The players are participating in 7-on-7 situations, as well as going through individual drills to hone their specific skills.
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey is among the group of former Duke players working with them. Entering his third season with the Bengals, Rey is a special-teams standout who just signed a new contract this past week.
The other five players played for Duke this past fall when the Blue Devil went 6-7 and participated in a bowl game for the first time since the 1994 season.
Among them is decorated wide receiver Conner Vernon, who is projected to be drafted later this month after setting ACC career records for receiving yards, receptions and consecutive games with a reception.
Durham’s Desmond Scott, who starred at Hillside High School before his Duke career, also is participating, along with long snapper Jackson Anderson, safety Jordon Byas and cornerback Tony Foster of Burlington.
The Mannings have known and worked with Cutcliffe for nearly two decades. Cutcliffe was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator during Peyton Manning’s career with the Volunteers from 1994-97. Cutcliffe was Mississippi’s head coach when Eli played for the Rebels from 1999-2004.
Duke lost backup quarterback Thomas Sirk, a redshirt freshman, to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon on Wednesday..
Sirk was injured during Wednesday morning’s practice session with the Blue Devils and had surgery a few hours later at Duke University Medical Center.
A 6-4, 215-pound player from Glen St. Mary, Fla., Sirk was listed at No. 2 on Duke’s depth chart behind starter Anthony Boone this spring.
Duke did not release a timetable for his return. But normal recovery time for Achilles’ tendon surgery is six-to-nine months, which likely would cost him any chance of playing this season.
With Sirk unavailable, Duke will likely have redshirt junior Brandon Connette back up Boone. Connette was used in a variety of roles in 2012, lining up in different special sets at tight end, running back and quarterback.