Day 1 of Broncos training camp at Dove Valley ended Thursday as most practices do with Peyton Manning: The majority of the players trudge back to the locker room, eager to get out of heat, while Manning stays behind, helmet still on, still taking snaps, still working with his receivers and the rookies.

Once he did leave the field, he started joking around with media.

At 38 and coming off a record season — perhaps the best NFL season for a quarterback — Manning has hardly slowed, physically or mentally. And he won't, not with how last season ended against Seattle.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning runs through drills on the first day of training camp at Dove Valley on Thursday.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning runs through drills on the first day of training camp at Dove Valley on Thursday. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

Manning and the rest of the Broncos took the field for the first time this camp, amid 92-degree heat, looking to start to move past the 43-8 rout that left "a bittersweet taste in your mouth," as coach John Fox put it Wednesday.

"It's the 2014 season, and just because you did something last year, it means nothing as far as this upcoming season," Manning said. "I always thought the NFL does not owe you anything. Nothing is given to you. You have to earn it."


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Manning set NFL records in passing yards (5,477) and touchdown passes (55) while earning his fifth league MVP award and helping the Broncos score a record 606 points and tally a 13-3 record. But their thrashing to the Seahawks last February has overshadowed all of that, and it was the impetus behind many of the team's offseason moves.

John Elway ensured that the Broncos would enter this season with a stronger, more reliable defense, with veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward.

But the offense still has work to do, and Manning faces the challenge this season of working with a younger receiving corps and running backs — guys he continues to work with before, after and outside of practices. Guys he believes will take advantage of having bigger roles.

"I mentioned (running back) Montee (Ball) — he's got a tremendous opportunity," Manning said. "I thought he's really seized that opportunity, so far. He's got a different look and attitude about him. And (wide receiver) Emmanuel (Sanders) being here, he's worked hard. (Wide receiver Andre) Caldwell will have a more significant role this season. It's a great opportunity for those guys, and I'm looking forward to working with those guys."

Sanders, who signed with the Broncos in March after spending four seasons with the Steelers, said he spent his down time studying up on the Broncos past and present receivers to get comfortable in their offense.

"I watched every single game from last year," he said. "I tried to watch Eric Decker and DT (Demaryius Thomas) and the rest just to see what those guys were doing so that I can improve my game, because this offense is tough. You move around a lot, and I'm just trying to get acclimated with it."

Once Thursday's sessions ended, Manning stayed on the field to get in some reps with Sanders and rookie receiver Cody Latimer. When he wasn't throwing, he was directing and watching and taking mental notes, still looking to improve on 2013, still looking for another world championship.

"We had a productive training camp last year and it paid off for us with some good on-the-field play during the regular season and then in the postseason," he said. "That's what we have to have again this year. You don't just turn it on come September. You have to make strides and make progress during training camp."

Nicki Jhabvala: njhabvala@denverpost.com or twitter.com/nickijhabvala