Peyton Manning will be on the sidelines Sunday when the Indianapolis Colts face off against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts’ quarterback, who has been sidelined since he underwent neck surgery Sept. 8, has spent the last two games in the press-box coaches’ booth. Manning announced Thursday, however, that he has been cleared by doctors to move to the field for the Kansas City game.
“They do an X-ray every four weeks on that [spinal] fusion to see how things are going. So I’ve got a good check-up on that. I’m still pretty limited in how much I can help [during practice and games],” he said.
“I’m doing a little more stuff [in his rehab]. I don’t get into the details of the rehab, but I’ve been able to do a little more. I’ve got work to do. I feel good.”
Manning was in a jovial, upbeat mood as he talked with the team’s media in the locker room before Thursday’s afternoon practice. He discussed several topics during the unexpected 10-minute chat, including his return to the sidelines and an update on his rehab schedule.
“My philosophy with [quarterbacks] Kerry [Collins] or Curtis [Painter], whoever is playing, is that they kind of have to come to me, call me. They’ve got a lot of people in their ears. Coach [Jim] Caldwell, [offensive coordinator] Clyde [Christensen], [quarterbacks coach] Ron Turner,” Manning explained.
“I think you have to understand that Ron Turner has to coach them a little differently than me, telling them certain ways to read things. I don’t want to interfere with that. I try to be [on the sidelines] as a resource and encourage guys.”
He understands that wherever he is during a game, press box or sidelines, he will remain the center of attention for fans and the media.
“I feel good. It’s a very tough question. I’m feeling good, but that means in two weeks you should be feeling great and playing. You have to be careful not to lead anybody on,” Manning said. “I’m in good spirits, have a good attitude. I come over here every day trying to get a little better.
“I really get tired of people trying to read my body language and moods. I don’t know how you do that. I would like to think everybody is kind of down around here. We are 0-4. I feel that a little bit. I go week to week and try to get a little bit better.”
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n Offensive-line issues — Who is going to start on the offensive line Sunday against the Chiefs? As of Thursday, that remains very much an open question.
Injuries abound as one rookie offensive tackle, Ben Ijalana, has been placed on injured reserve with a knee injury and another, Anthony Castonzo, is out indefinitely with a high left ankle sprain.
Offensive guard Ryan Diem, a former starting right tackle, has been sidelined for the past two weeks with a high ankle sprain.
If Diem can play this week, which is doubtful since he hasn’t practiced in a couple of weeks, he would probably end up back at right tackle.
As it stands now, however, it appears the Colts will go with Jeff Saturday at center, Mike Pollak at right guard, Joe Reitz at left guard, recently re-signed Michael Toudouze at right tackle and Jeff Linkenbach moving back to left tackle from right tackle.
Confusing, to be sure. But that’s the lot that the Indianapolis coaching staff has been dealt.
“Practice will go along this week and we’ll see where we are. We do have a lot of possibilities and some of them are too endless to go through on who is going to be where and here and there. We’ll see. We haven’t gotten a final determination yet on Ryan Diem. He is improving and getting better. I’m not certain if he makes it,” Caldwell said.
“If he does, obviously, that will put him at one [tackle] spot and [Jeff Linkenbach] at the other. The inside three should remain the same as they’ve been. That’s kind of what we’re looking at. If [Diem] is not able to go, then we’ll have to make another adjustment there at that position. That just depends on who that might be. It could be Michael Toudouze, who’s been here before and who’s played the position before, or we could slide another alternative in there.”
Toudouze was a fifth-round pick by the Colts in 2006 and has been on and off the team’s roster three times since then. He spent his rookie season on practice squad and was on the active roster from 2007-10.
Much like any other position, having a player who is familiar with Indianapolis’ offensive system certainly helps in the transition.
“Familiarity is a problem because some guys can do a little bit more than others. They know the system. Also, experience as well. Those things play a big part in it. You have to weigh and measure all of those things and hopefully get the right combination, particularly in the offensive line because it requires guys working in unison with one another,” Caldwell explained.
“Communication and all of those things that they are accustomed to doing with one another. When you have a guy that’s unfamiliar with it, it takes a little bit of time to teach him. That’s why you often times reach back for guys that are familiar with your system.”
• Tickets available — The Chiefs have returned almost 300 tickets for Sunday’s game.
Tickets are available. while they last, at the Lucas Oil Stadium ticket office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000 or at www.ticketmaster.com.
n Injury list — Safety Melvin Bullitt, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Cleveland in Week 2, is scheduled to undergo surgery today. Bullitt injured his right shoulder against the Browns. It’s the second straight season that he has been sidelined for the year with a right shoulder injury.
But it looks like linebacker Ernie Sims (knee) might be available to play against the Chiefs. Sims was hurt against Houston in the season opener and has not played since.
“It looks good at this point,” Caldwell said. “He worked hard [Wednesday] and worked well.”
• Thursday’s injury report — Did not practice: RB Joseph Addai (rest), OT Anthony Castonzo (ankle), OG Ryan Diem (ankle), TE Brody Eldridge (knee), DE Robert Mathis (chest), DT Drake Nevis (back). Limited practice: QB Kerry Collins (concussion), DT Fili Moala (ankle), LB Ernie Sims (knee). Full practice: DE Dwight Freeney (abdominal), OG Mike Pollak (arm), OG Joe Reitz (ankle).
Collins has been cleared by doctors to participate in limited practice but he has not been cleared to play in a game. His status for Sunday’s game remains up in the air.