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QB news dominates first day of interviews at NFL scouting combine

John Kryk

By John Kryk, Toronto Sun

Broncos QB Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass during against the Bengals during NFL acton in Cincinnati on Dec. 22, 2014. (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports)

Broncos QB Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass during against the Bengals during NFL acton in Cincinnati on Dec. 22, 2014. (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports)

Never mind the rookie quarterbacks-to-be.

Their turn in the spotlight comes Thursday.

On Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine, news swirled all day regarding current NFL passers, as 25 head coaches and GMs took turns addressing the press at Lucas Oil Field.

In a nutshell, the news is all good for Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III. But for Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Zach Mettenberger and EJ Manuel? Not so much.

The deets:

PEYTON MANNING: Denver’s new coach Gary Kubiak said he wants Manning back, and expects him back.

Manning has been mulling whether to return for an 18th season. He has two years to go on his five-year deal with the Broncos, and is set to earn $19 million both in 2015 and 2016.

After Manning met with GM John Elway late last week, reports suggested Mr. Commercials will return to quarterback the Broncos in 2015.

“No doubt I want him to be,” Kubiak said. “I think all indications are that (through) everything that he said, and through his conversations with John, he feels good.”

Manning reportedly tore a quad muscle in Week 15 yet kept playing.

“He’s had his self-assessment or however you want to label that, and he feels good about moving forward,” Kubiak said. “So, we’ll just continue with the process.”

Elway is scheduled to meet the press Thursday at 2:30 p.m. EST.

ROBERT GRIFFIN III: Redskins head coach Jay Gruden wasted little time anointing RG3 his No. 1 QB heading into the spring. With an asterisk.

There has been endless speculation that Griffin might be done in Washington, after a terrible third year in Gruden’s new reads-heavy, traditional pocket-passing system that saw the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner injured, then benched for a few games.

“We’ll go into the season with Robert as the No. 1 guy,” Gruden said, “and, you know, it’s up to Robert to continue to grow and mature as a quarterback and as a person ... We just want to see some improvement. It’s up to us as a staff to get more out of him.”

JAY CUTLER: Neither new Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace nor new head coach John Fox gave their incumbent anything remotely approaching a vote of confidence.

Almost the opposite.

Asked flat-out if Cutler is his No. 1 QB, Pace said: “We’re still evaluating all that, obviously going through this whole thing ... I don’t want to rush into any decisions. I want to max out the time that we have and just be thorough with every one of these (roster evaluations).

“Cutler has outstanding physical talent, there’s no denying that. It’s just getting to know the individual and all of the other intangibles that make a great quarterback ... (Fox and I) have both been around all different kinds of quarterbacks. It’s just figuring out him as a person.”

Fox seemed bothered by repeated probing on Cutler’s status.

“So, we’re going to ask this eight different ways?” he finally said. “I don’t think there’s any question that there’s ability and talent there. (But) there’s a lot more that goes into it, and we’re evaluating that as we speak.”

SAM BRADFORD: The Rams have no plans to “delete” their perennially injured franchise QB Sam Bradford, GM Les Snead said. But neither would Snead commit to Bradford as the team’s No. 1 starter in 2015 -- the first hint of deviation from what we’ve been hearing the Rams say all decade long about the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick.

Bradford has torn the same ACL twice in the past two years. He is set to earn $13 million in this, the last year of his six-year rookie deal.

Snead said no one is even sure yet when Bradford might be ready to compete for his old job, filled in 2014 by Shaun Hill and Austin Davis. But there’s one thing Snead sounds sure of.

“Let’s don’t delete him,” he said. “Let’s rehab (Bradford). Let’s see if he can reach his potential.”

ZACH METTENBERGER: GM Ruston Webster said the Tennessee Titans like Mettenberger, last year’s gun-slingin’ sixth-round pick who played in seven games. But because the Titans have this year’s No. 2 overall selection, they’re taking a mighty close look at the top QBs in the draft.

“I’ve talked to Zach multiple times,” Webster said. “I am going to shoot him straight and tell him where we are ... I was not able to give him a commitment (as starter) for next season.”

Webster talked glowingly of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the consensus top two passers in the draft.

EJ MANUEL: New Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan really, really likes EJ Manuel, last year’s benched starter. But Ryan keeps saying the team continues to look high and low to upgrade at that position -- perhaps with the suddenly very popular Josh McCown.

McCown visited the Bills late last week after being released by the Tampa Bay Bucs. McCown has since met with the New York Jets, and he met with Bears brass here in Indy on Wednesday morning.

“It was a great visit,” Ryan said of the 35-year-old McCown’s Buffalo visit. “We wanted to meet him face-to-face. We have a couple of coaches ... that have some experience with Josh.

“I think both sides were impressed.”

Would McCown be a viable starting option for the Bills, should he sign with Buffalo?

“Well, we’ll see. We’re not going to tip our hand one way or another,” Ryan said.

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/JohnKryk

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