Seven notes on a Thursday afternoon:
### Two days after Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz said Peyton Manning "is not throwing like an NFL quarterback," NFL Network's Mike Lombardi also raised concerns.
Lombardi told ESPN's Bill Simmons: "He can't throw the ball. I've talked to people who have caught the ball from him. He can't throw the ball to his left. He can't throw the ball across his body because he doesn't feel it. People that catch the ball from him say he doesn't really have velocity on the ball yet.''
But former Colts vice chairman Bill Polian left a far different impression in a Thursday interview with ESPN. Polian said when he last saw Manning throw in December, "It's marked [improvement] from where he was in September. He threw it accurately. He threw it with a good, tight spiral. He threw it with velocity. Generally, he looked like a pretty confident quarterback out there."
Polian predicted Manning will return "at a high level."
As you know (unless you've been on the North Pole), Manning is widely expected to be released before the March 8 deadline for the Colts to pay him a $28 million bonus.
### The Marlins took coveted Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to lunch at Smith and Wollensky on Wednesday, and one oddity of the whole scene is that cameras were rolling.
The cameras weren’t from any local TV station. Instead, MLB was shooting it to have footage for Showtime’s reality series on the Marlins that will air this summer.
Showtime produced six episodes on the San Francisco Giants last summer – the first year the network produced this type of program, which is similar to HBO’s NFL training camp series, Hard Knocks.
A Marlins’ deal with Showtime hasn’t been finalized, but it is expected barring any unexpected glitches.
Cespedes has made clear he would love to play for the Marlins, but his agent will go through the process of eliciting bids from other teams, just in case another team makes a significantly higher offer. The Marlins' meeting with Cespedes went well, his agent told ESPN, adding that other teams are in the mix but declining to say if he has met with them. Cespedes is expected to return to the Dominican Republic this week.
### With Anibal Sanchez and Emilio Bonifacio winning their arbitration cases, the Marlins payroll will end up being around $100 million – at least $20 million more than even the club’s top executives expected before Jeffrey Loria decided to go on his spending spree.
The Marlins originally said they planned to be in the mid-range of big-league payrolls when they opened the new stadium, which would be in the $88 million range. Credit them for topping that. The Marlins 2012 payroll will be barely below their COMBINED payroll from 2008 to 2010.
Their payroll, over the past four years, was $21 million, $36 million, $47 million and $57.6 million.
The 2012 payroll would be even larger if their most recent deals weren’t so backloaded. For example, Jose Reyes will make $10 million in 2012, but $22 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
### WQAM says Channing Crowder is stepping away from his radio work for the next couple of months to prepare for an NFL comeback. It won’t be for the Dolphins; Crowder has repeatedly blasted GM Jeff Ireland. But he said he would love to play for the Falcons, who recently hired former Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Crowder and Nolan already have spoken.
### It was notable that Erik Spoelstra went to Dexter Pittman – not Eddy Curry – when he needed a natural backup center against Orlando. Spoelstra has used Curry in only five games, for 27 minutes, and clearly doesn’t believe he’s ready to be an every-night contributor.
Pittman, for the season, has 10 points, 17 rebounds and 23 fouls. Curry has 10 points, five rebounds and nine fouls.
### Dwyane Wade, who made 63 three-pointers last season and 88 two years ago, is 0 for 9 for the season after missing two against Orlando.
“It’s not like somebody came to me and said, ‘D, don’t shoot threes,’” he said. “I haven’t been handling the ball a lot at the [top of] the key. My spots are different.” Wade is a career 30 percent shooter on threes.
### Despite the departures of Travis Benjamin, LaRon Byrd and Tommy Streeter, UM should be fine at receiver next season, with six incoming players to accompany potential starters Allen Hurns and Philip Dorsett. But receiver will be a major problem when spring practice begins March 3, because Hurns will be out with an injury and Rashawn Scott may be, too. That leaves only Dorsett, Davon Johnson and Kendal Thompkins among scholarship players.