- Associated Press - Sunday, August 1, 2010

ANDERSON, IND. (AP) - Reigning MVP Peyton Manning is ready to get back to work.

He still would have preferred one more lighthearted moment with his old buddy, Reggie Wayne, before focusing on football.

Manning fulfilled his customary role as the first player to arrive at Colts training camp, then lamented the fact he might not get to witness Wayne’s traditional grand entrance Sunday.

“That is always kind of fun to see,” Manning said. “You’d always hear he did this or he did that, but you never really believed it. He drove, what was it last year, a truck?”

Actually, it was a dump truck complete with hard hat and orange construction vest, Peyton.

But there are more substantive questions heading into camp this season.

Manning’s favorite comedian, Wayne, and defensive end Robert Mathis skipped all of the team’s offseason workouts because they wanted new contracts. Both Pro Bowlers have two years remaining on their current deals.

Defensive end Jerry Hughes, Indy’s first-round draft pick, was still negotiating a package that could get him to Anderson University, a Division III school about 30 miles north of Indy, in time for Monday’s first practice.

Now, because of the defending AFC champions’ new policy, ticket-paying fans may have to wait longer to get answers.

Team officials prohibited all players except Manning from speaking to reporters, the first time access has been restricted on reporting day since the Colts held their first training camp at Anderson in 1984. Television cameras and a pool photographer were permitted to shoot the players’ arrivals, but were kept about 150 yards from the building and were told to turn off microphones and cell phones.

Coach Jim Caldwell took questions, too, though his availability came four hours before the team’s 2 p.m. mandatory reporting deadline. While Caldwell said he had not yet spoken with Wayne or Mathis about their plans, he “anticipated” both would arrive on time and that Hughes would work out a deal before Monday.

Wayne also has been dropping hints about his intentions. A recent journal entry on Wayne’s web site solicited advice from fans about where to eat in Anderson, though the new format would not have appealed to Wayne’s attention-grabbing arrivals.

“Since you all have been quarantined over here, I think he’d be disappointed,” Manning said. “No one would be there to film it. I think he’d be disappointed _ though it might save him some money.”

Caldwell did have some good news for fans.

Receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who missed all but the first quarter last season with a right knee injury, and safety Bob Sanders, who missed all but two games last season with knee and biceps injuries, are not expected to open practice on the physically unable to perform list.

Gonzalez was limited in the team workouts before heading to Tennessee for sessions with Manning and Austin Collie.

Sanders has been on PUP three times in the past four years. The lone exception came in 2007, the year he was selected the NFL defensive player of the year.

“Bob was here during the spring, he did a great job, he felt good, moved around well,” Caldwell said, deflecting speculation about Sanders’ health. “I fully anticipate that (he will practice). I anticipate everyone on the bubble will participate.”

Manning is also coming off surgery.

Doctors repaired a pinched nerve in Manning’s neck in March, and it hasn’t slowed the league’s four-time MVP. He practiced throughout the spring with his teammates, says he’s feeling better than ever and is focused on winning another Super Bowl.

“My focus is to get better as a player, to get my timing down with any of the players, whether it’s Brody Eldridge or Brandon James,” Manning said. “I want to get better every day. I think that’s what training camp is about, getting better.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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