After eight years together in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark with reunite on Sunday, but with both playing on different – and brand new – teams. The two remain good friends and have a appreciation for each other work ethic.
When the Buccaneers travel to Denver to take on the Broncos this Sunday one of the league's most prolific quarterback-tight end tandem will be reunited once again. But this time Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark won't be wearing the same uniforms as each other. In fact neither will even be in the same uniform they wore last year.
Manning missed the entire 2011 football season after recovering from neck surgery that he had earlier in the year to repair a bulging disk, and many were unsure of whether he would be the same player he was prior to the surgery.
Clark is not surprised though by the progress that his former teammate has made and in the way that he is now playing.
“No, no I would never bet against him on his determination of his rehab,” Clark said. “And just being around and seeing all the hard work he has put in. You knew he was going to surprise a lot of people. He definitely gave great commitment and dedication to getting back and everything that you have to do to overcome an injury as an athlete. He did that and did a great job of putting himself in a position to come out and perform [the way] that he wants to.”
Clark remembers the type of leader and teammate that Peyton Manning was on the field and how he worked to ensure everyone knew what was going on within the offense on the field.
“He is just getting everyone on the same page,” Clark said. “Getting everyone being where they are supposed to be. You better be there because there is no time for mistakes and things like that. Just a high standard for everyone.”
The tight end has nothing but respect still for the man whom he caught passes from for the first nine seasons of his NFL career. Clark realizes that the bond between he and Peyton Manning as a quarterback and receiver duo was something to cherish and that it does not happen all the time.
“It is definitely something special,” Clark said. “It is very unique. It is definitely something that as you continue to play down the road when you are done playing. It is one of those things that will be something that you look back and realize how special a situation we had.”
As far as Manning is concerned, the respect is mutual between the two who were teammates for nine years while playing for the Colts. For the veteran quarterback, Clark was more than just a teammate.
“Dallas is a great friend,” Manning said. “He was a rookie in 2003, so we’ve had some wonderful years together playing in Indy. It was just a pleasure to call him as a teammate and as a friend. He made plays for me, a bunch of catches over the middle.”
Manning is happy to see that his friend is doing well in his new team in Tampa. Manning is also not surprised with Clark’s increased role and in the Buccaneers' offense.
“I’ve seen some of the Tampa Bay offense playing some common opponents and I’ve seen him making some key plays that he made for our team in Indy over and over again, [like] catching the game-winning pass against Carolina,” Manning said. “And I’m happy to see that he’s doing well. It’s always different when you see guys that you’ve played with for so many years and practiced with. To think about how many passes I’ve thrown to Dallas Clark, in practice in May, April, and June. Just countless repetitions and Dallas (Clark) was a true workaholic. You couldn’t throw enough passes; he always wanted to do one more. He and I were always trying to get it just right, but it always paid off for us on Sunday. So I always appreciated his work ethic and I know he’s working just as hard down there in Tampa.”–Mark Cook contributed on this report
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