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NFL: Manning cleared to play this fall

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning passed his physical exam Monday, planned primarily to gauge the status of his surgically repaired neck, and is cleared to play in 2014.

Manning passed the team’s exit interview physical last month but returned for physicians to more closely evaluate the neck area reconstructed in spinal fusion surgery in 2012.

Monday’s exam was a contractually required check-up on his neck that came along with the free-agent deal the Broncos gave Manning before the 2012 season.

Manning missed all of the 2011 season, his final year with the Indianapolis Colts, after undergoing four neck surgeries.

The examination was considered a formality since Manning played in each of his team’s 19 games during the 2013 campaign, which ended with a loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl.

Vice president and general manager John Elway said last month the Broncos expected no surprises from Monday’s exam, one Manning downplayed during the run-up to Denver’s 43-8 loss in the Super Bowl.

Manning’s deal included guaranteed $20 million salaries in both 2013 and 2014, but 2014 could be voided if Manning’s neck became an issue this past season. He has had no significant or unexpected issues with his neck as a result of playing this past season.

Manning’s five-year, $96 million deal runs through the 2016 season. He won his record fifth MVP award this past season with 5,477 passing yards to go with 55 touchdowns. Both were NFL single-season records.

Manning is expected to take aim at Brett Favre’s career touchdowns record, needing 18 more to lead the all-time list.

Manning is 26-6 in regular-season starts with Denver, with two AFC West titles to go with a Super Bowl trip last month.