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Record crowd cheers on Manning

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, spoke about safety at a youth clinic Saturday in Akron, Ohio. (Associated Press)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, spoke about safety at a youth clinic Saturday in Akron, Ohio. (Associated Press)

On his first snap, Peyton Manning went deep. He overshot Demaryius Thomas but nonetheless showed off his arm strength to any doubters that might remain.

On his 14th and final snap of the Denver Broncos’ summer scrimmage Saturday in Englewood, Colo., Manning found Eric Decker for a 9-yard touchdown toss that drew the largest ovation from the biggest crowd to watch the team practice.

The Broncos had two three-and-outs before Manning drove them downfield for the score.

But it was another mile marker in Manning’s comeback from his lost 2011 season and a tuneup for Thursday night’s exhibition opener at Chicago, when the four-time MVP suits up in a game for the first time since playing in the Pro Bowl following the 2010 season.

Manning missed all of last season with a nerve injury in his neck that sapped his arm strength and led to tearful departure from Indianapolis.

Manning’s first appearance in blue and orange at Sports Authority Field drew 41,304 fans, almost double the old record of 20,782 set two years ago when Tim Tebow was the main attraction.

Goodell to kids: Play game right

More than 100 youth football players knelt in the grass in front of the white goal post, waiting to strap up their new helmets. First, they got a warning from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“You’ve still got to play the game by the rules,” Goodell said. “You don’t use your head as a weapon. You don’t use your helmets as a weapon. They’re there to protect you.”

Goodell took his message about player safety to the youngest level of the game, attending a football clinic in Akron, Ohio, where players received new helmets through a partnership started by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Sanchez delivers in scrimmage

Mark Sanchez led the New York Jets on a touchdown drive, while Tim Tebow mostly sputtered during the team’s intrasquad scrimmage in Cortland, N.Y.

Sanchez and Tebow each led four drives, with the starting quarterback going 11 of 16 for 82 yards and a scoring toss to Bilal Powell. The touchdown capped an impressive 60-yard drive.

Tebow was 0 of 3, including a dropped long pass by Eron Riley. Tebow ran three times for 14 yards.

Around the league

Cleveland Browns linebacker Chris Gocong injured his right Achilles tendon in practice and is likely out for the season. Cleveland already was faced with not having Scott Fujita for the first three games because of his league suspension for being part of the bounty scandal in New Orleans. … New England guard Robert Gallery retired, 4 1/2 months after signing with Patriots as a free agent. The 31-year-old lineman spent last season with Seattle. … Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the Washington Redskins have chosen four sites in Richmond at which they hope to hold their training camp next year. McDonnell said executives will make on-site assessments next week.

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