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September 6, 2011

Manning’s prospects growing dimmer

Colts QB may need more treatment

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s becoming readily apparent that Peyton Manning’s National Football League-best streak of 227 consecutive starts (including playoffs) at quarterback could come to an end this week at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

After Internet and social media websites reported Sunday night that the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player – who initially had surgery on May 23 to repair a bulging disc in his neck – might need to undergo an additional medical procedure, Indianapolis Colts officials felt the need to clarify his medical progress on Monday.

 ”During the last week, the rate of improvement in Peyton’s rehabilitation process slowed. Over the weekend Peyton experienced soreness in his back. It was originally thought to be a normal reaction to his rehabilitation regimen.

When the soreness persisted, the Colts medical team decided to initiate diagnostic tests and to consult with a number of specialists around the country who have been involved in Peyton’s case from the outset. That process continues,” the Colts said in a prepared statement.

“As a result of the most recent development, the doctors have decided that Peyton will not practice. His participation therefore, in Sunday’s game versus Houston, will likely be doubtful. We will update his playing status as required by NFL policy as the week goes on. At the conclusion of the diagnostic process, if there are any new developments in the prognosis which we outlined for Peyton at the start of training camp we will report them. As of now, Peyton continues to deal with a complicated neurological recovery, the end date of which is unpredictable. As was stated at the outset, it serves no useful purpose to speculate about hypothetical outcomes. When and if there are concrete medical facts to report, we will do so. We appreciate your consideration in this matter.”

Manning has not missed a game since coming into the National Football League as a rookie in 1998. While he has not officially been listed as out for the Texans game, veteran backup Kerry Collins is preparing as if he will take over the reins of the Indianapolis offense.

“I’m getting ready to play. That’s the bottom line. There’s a lot that we’re going to have to get ready for this week. I’m excited for the challenge and I’m going to bust my tail this week to get ready to play,” Collins said before the start of Monday afternoon’s practice.

Collins signed with the Colts two weeks ago and had just four practices under his belt before playing in the team’s final preseason game at Cincinnati last Thursday night. While Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell has yet to make the final call as to which quarterback will line up behind center Jeff Saturday against Houston, the former 1995 first-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers is getting ready.

“I’m going to prepare hard either way. Obviously with Peyton’s status still in question, I’m taking the mindset that I’m going to play on Sunday,” he said. “The more [practice repetitions] the better. I've worked in situations before where [a decision] comes down to the latter part of the week. To know sooner rather will definitely help my mind set going throughout the week.

"[Former Tennessee Titans coach] Jeff [Fisher] used to like to keep people waiting throughout the week to see if a starter was going to play, whether it was going to be [Vince] Young or me. But that's just part of it. In no way is that going to change my preparation. My preparation is going to be the same. I’m going to get in the meeting rooms, study, watch film and all that kind of thing to just get ready to play.”

Since arriving in Indianapolis, Collins has been forced to be a quick study in learning the Colts’ complicated offensive system. Even with quarterbacks coach Ron Turner tutoring him, the process hasn’t been an easy one.

“I feel comfortable with the offense. I feel like I’ve come a long way in a short time since I’ve been here. I’ve really buckled down and grinded on it. Certainly I’ve got a lot to learn. But as far as my comfort level, it’s pretty high,” he admitted.

So is Caldwell’s.

“He’s making really good progress and he’s working extremely hard at it. He’s been working overtime at it. That’s what this week is for. We can really focus in on what he’s going to have to do during the course of a game so that he’ll be fine,” the Colts coach said.

“It’s not as if we’re dealing with someone who hasn’t been in a lot of games. He’s played. He understands concepts and systems. And he’ll be able to function, I think, very, very well. I don’t expect him to be perfect. We have to have some other guys step up and give him some assistance here and there, which we have a lot of guys who can do that. I think he’ll be fine.”

As for any possible scaling back on the offensive game plan without Manning in the lineup, Caldwell won’t say what he’s planning to do.

"We’re going to do everything we possibly can just to make sure we cover as many bases as possible. You can’t get it all," he said. "It’s not an easy offense to come in and function in. So we have to make a few adjustments and changes to suit [Collins] as well.”

• Read the press release – When Caldwell was asked Monday about Manning's chance of playing Sunday in Houston, his response was somewhat expected.

“One of the things I think is good that we do is we put out a release to answer as many questions as we’re going to answer about those certain subjects, and that’s one of them,” the Colts coach said. “I think it states it pretty clearly all the things that we know, and when we have further details we’ll announce them at that time.”

• Tough on Manning – While much has been made of Manning’s consecutive start streak, possibly missing the Texans game is taking a mental toll on the quarterback.

“[He] loves to play. He loves to compete. He loves to practice. And anytime he’s out of that loop that’s going to be tough for him,” Caldwell said. “I think that’s just who he is. He’s always been a hard-working guy with a great zeal and zest for what he does and his profession.

“He doesn’t miss days, offseason or in season. You name it and he’s always there, and I’m certain that’s a commitment he made to the sport from the time he was a very little guy. He’s still carrying that on today.”

• Tressel delay – The Colts hired former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to be a game-day advisor to Caldwell last Friday. But after a decision by Indianapolis officials Monday, Tressel won't officially start on the job until the seventh week of the season.

His addition to the coaching staff last week came as somewhat of a surprise and created a stir in the national media. Tressel resigned from OSU on May 30 after NCAA rules violations came to light. Ex-Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who was selected by Oakland in the NFL's supplemental draft, will sit out the first five games of the season.

"After the announcement of Coach Jim Tressel’s agreement to join the Colts as a game-day consultant, questions were raised with respect to the equity of his appointment as opposed to suspensions being served this season by present and former Ohio State players. Over the weekend Coach Tressel, [team owner] Mr. [Jim] Irsay, Coach Caldwell and I had a discussion of the issue," vice chairman Bill Polian said in a prepared statement.

"In addition, we had a conversation with league officials to apprise them of the details of Coach Tressel’s employment and the issues we were reviewing. At Coach Tressel's suggestion, and with Mr. Irsay’s concurrence and support, we have decided to begin Coach Tressel’s employment effective with our seventh regular season game. We have informed the league office of our decision and expect that they will be supportive of it. We are very happy Coach Tressel will be joining us.”

• Roster moves – Here's a look back at the players waived by the Colts this past weekend: S Al Afalava, P Travis Baltz, WR Chris Brooks, DE John Chick, LB Chris Colasanti, OG Kyle DeVan, TE Tyson DeVree, DT John Gill, WR David Gilreath, S Michael Hamlin, DT Tommie Harris, RB Javarris James, DB Brandon King, and C Jake Kirkpatrick.

Also, DT Ricardo Mathews, TE Michael Matthews, OG Jacques McClendon, WR Larrone Moore, LB Kerry Neal, DT Ollie Ogbu, QB Dan Orlovsky, WR Taj Smith (Waived/Injured), OT Mike Tepper, OT Michael Toudouze, LB Nate Triplett, LB Vuna Tuihalamaka, and WR Marshall Williams.

Indianapolis also signed five players to its practice squad: Gilreath, Mathews, Ogbu, Tepper and Williams. Indy also claimed RB Chris Gronkowski off waivers from Dallas and placed RB Chad Spann on injured reserve (hamstring).

• Injury list – WR Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring) and S Antoine Bethea (hamstring) both sat out Monday’s workout. Gonzalez and Bethea are hopeful of being available for the Texans game.

WR Austin Collie (foot), LB Gary Brackett (elbow) and OG Ryan Diem (elbow) all saw work in the practice. Diem will probably start at right offensive guard after sliding inside from right offensive tackle.

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