- Associated Press - Saturday, August 7, 2010

ANDERSON, IND. (AP) - Howard Mudd spent five decades playing or coaching in the NFL.

He’s never been around a student such as Peyton Manning.

From the moment Indy’s franchise quarterback walked into Anderson University’s gym in 1998, Mudd could tell this guy was going to be different. The No. 1 pick went right to work studying the playbook, the protections, anything to give him an edge. He poured over film, took meticulous notes and met with teammates regularly to discuss ideas. Heck, he wouldn’t even talk Tennessee football because he was too busy learning the NFL game.

Manning’s thirst for knowledge never could be quenched in his rookie season, and 12 years, one Super Bowl ring and four MVP awards later, it still hasn’t.

“His preparation has never wavered,” said Mudd, the recently retired Colts offensive line coach. “Every single year, his intensity, his preparation is exactly the same _ or greater. To me, that is his brilliance.”

Mudd understands what it takes to be successful at football’s highest-profile job.

After coaching with six different teams and working with quarterbacks ranging from Hall of Famers Dan Fouts and Warren Moon to quality starters such as Bernie Kosar and even busts such as Rick Mirer, Mudd knows some win with their physical skills, others with their brains.

But Manning beats opponents with both because he’s rewritten the book on preparation.

Almost anybody in the league, from Ray Lewis to Bill Belichick, will tell you Manning cannot be fooled.

He’s seen virtually every defense, heard every defensive call and expects his teammates to know it all, too.

That’s why last season, Manning spent each Thursday night huddled in a film room for more than an hour with rookie receiver Austin Collie. The goal was to make sure both saw the same things on the field, something that paid dividends when the two hooked up on a beautifully read 16-yard TD pass against the Jets in January’s AFC title game.

Rookies aren’t the only ones being pulled aside.

“The first day you walk out on game week, he’s got about 14 pink post-its up and you know he’s going to pull you over and spend 15 minutes discussing what he thinks is important,” said longtime center Jeff Saturday, a four-time Pro Bowler.

For Manning, the work never ends.

Coach Jim Caldwell, Manning’s former position coach, remembers times during the offseason when Manning would come in and throw at targets. Caldwell charted every throw, and it got to be a long list.

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