Manning thanks Rockies, former Vols teammate

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, at the Rockies game with teammate and receiver Eric Decker, rehabbed from neck surgery at the Rockies’ facilities during the lockout.

Associated Press

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, at the Rockies game with teammate and receiver Eric Decker, rehabbed from neck surgery at the Rockies’ facilities during the lockout.

DENVER — New Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning felt right at home with Todd Helton and the Rockies. Manning dropped by Coors Field on Sunday morning to visit his pal before the Rockies' game against the Mets.

Manning and Helton were quarterbacks at the University of Tennessee during the mid 1990s, and Manning supplanted him as the starter.

When Manning was going through his rehabilitation from neck surgery during the NFL lockout, Helton helped arrange for him to use the Rockies' facilities.

"He's a great friend for what he did for me last year, allowing me to use this facility, use the trainers to work out as part of my rehab process," Manning said.

"I've come a long way in a year. They were a big part of it. The whole Rockies organization, I can't thank them enough for opening their doors to me last year when I certainly was an outsider. I'll always be indebted to them."

Manning said he even had a locker now occupied by Rockies rightfielder Michael Cuddyer.

Manning also felt at ease in Denver.

"I've spent a lot of time here, so I knew how great of a city it was and what a great sports town it was," he said. "Todd didn't have to make a hard, hard sell."

From almost signed to being 'irrelevant'

Chandler Harnish said he almost was not Mr. Irrelevant — a.k.a. the last player drafted.

The former Northern Illinois quarterback said as the seventh, and final, round was winding down, the Chargers pressured him into signing once he went undrafted. When the Colts got wind of that, they took Harnish at No. 253.

"It looked like we were about ready to set up a free agency deal. I was ready to go to San Diego," said Harnish, who added he also talked to the Chiefs, Titans, Rams and Raiders.

"They wanted the decision 10 minutes after they could put the deal on the table, and this was still at Pick 240. "Well, my agent tells the Colts, 'Hey, he's going to San Diego if you don't draft him with your last pick.' So because of that, the Colts were like, 'We want him.' "

Bucs lose receiver: Toledo receiver Eric Page, who went undrafted, tweeted late Saturday he had signed with the Bucs. However, he changed his mind and signed with the Broncos. Page declared for the draft after his junior season, during which he caught 125 passes for 1,182 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Ex-Bull on the block: The Cowboys tried to trade former USF star cornerback Mike Jenkins over the weekend but failed to find a taker, ESPNDallas reported. Jenkins was the 25th overall pick by Dallas in 2008. But he had surgery on his right shoulder in January after separating it multiple times last season. And Thursday, the Cowboys drafted LSU star cornerback Morris Claiborne sixth overall.

Star QBs sign: Case Keenum, who set NCAA records for passing yards (19,217), touchdowns (155) and completions (1,546) while at Houston, signed with the Texans after going undrafted. Kellen Moore, also undrafted despite winning an NCAA-record 50 games at Boise State, signed with the Lions.

Chargers: Quarterback Jarrett Lee, who started nine games for LSU last season but went undrafted, signed as did Central Florida linebacker Josh Linam.

Eagles: Tight end Chase Ford, undrafted out of Miami, signed.

Falcons: Chris Polian, the son of former Colts executive Bill Polian and who was fired as Colts general manager in February, was hired in a personnel role, Profootballtalk.com reported. His role was not disclosed.

Ravens: Florida quarterback John Brantley and receiver Deonte Thomas, both of who were not drafted, signed.

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.

Manning thanks Rockies, former Vols teammate 04/30/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 30, 2012 12:09am]

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