News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Pro Sports

August 30, 2011

Released from PUP list, Manning returns to practice

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning officially returned to the practice field Monday after being activated off the Indianapolis Colts’ physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

It was the Pro Bowl quarterback’s first workout with the team since last January due to the National Football League’s 4 1/2-month labor lockout as well as the May 23 surgical procedure to repair a bulging disc in his neck. He had been on the PUP list since the start of training camp.

“It will be nice to get back out there on the practice field and be able to do a few more things than what I’ve been able to do. I’d like to just be able to do what I [can], use this week and have more of a status report before the beginning of next week, and then just kind of go from there,” Manning said prior to Monday afternoon’s workout. It was his first extended meeting with the team’s media in several weeks.

“This was one of my goals all along, to get back during the week of this last preseason game. This would give you two weeks of on-the-field work. And it can give you a pretty good answer to some questions that Coach [Jim] Caldwell has and that I have. So you have to get out there around the guys to really know where you are and how you feel.”

The four-time NFL Most Valuable Player has been undergoing rehabilitation with Colts medical personnel, specifically rehab specialist Erin Barille, since the end of the lockout. His rehab workload increased after the start of camp in Anderson in early August.

By returning this week, prior to the team’s final preseason game at Cincinnati on Thursday night, Manning will have nearly two weeks to test himself. He will then decide, in consultation with the team doctors and Caldwell, if he’s ready to start against Houston on Sept. 11.

“[I want to] use this week and try to get better. That’s kind of been my goal all along, trying to get better. I know everybody’s into predictions and everybody wants to have the breaking news. But I just can’t give you any more than what I’m giving you,” he voiced, while adding a semi-joking request.

“Just do me a favor. Please don’t ask the lineman and receivers how I’m doing because it annoys them and they get mad at me. So you all could do me a favor there and just ask me, and then maybe ask [Jim] Caldwell. Hopefully leave everyone else alone, if that’s possible. Just a request, I know you don’t have to do it.”

As for asking for additional information on his neck surgery or details as to how his rehabilitation is going, Manning opted to plead the fifth.

“I don’t know what HIPAA [health privacy legislation] stands for, but I believe in it and I practice it. I’ll leave it at that,” he smiled.

n Talking Kerry Collins — They’ve been friends and acquaintances for several years, as well as AFC South rivals, so Manning is very familiar with the Colts’ newest quarterback.

He is also close friends with his primary backup for the last couple of seasons, Curtis Painter. So it’s understandable if there is a bit of a tightrope that Manning is trying to navigate.

“It’s a tough question for me to answer because Curtis Painter is one of my best friends on the team. I have known Kerry for a long time, and I’m all about helping the team be a better football team. Our goal, at this point, is to start out with a [win], and I want to do whatever I can to make that happen. My goal is certainly to be out there playing,” he said.

“But when I’m not doing my rehab or trying to get myself better, ready to play, I’m doing what I can to help Curtis and to help Kerry. I think that’s been a pretty common goal. When a guy is injured, he’s helping whoever his backup is to help play. So I will do what I can to help both those guys. And, at the same time, try to get ready to play myself.”

• Collins on Manning — During the previous five seasons, there were times that Kerry Collins stood on the Tennessee Titans’ sideline watching Peyton Manning and wondered what it would be like to run an offense like the Colts.

Now he knows.

“It’s really cool. For so many years, I’ve watched him do it. And I’ve always kind of wondered ‘What’s he doing?’ I think everybody does. Now, to be in it and to see what he does and how he does it, is a real thrill,” Collins said Monday.

“From a quarterback standpoint, I think we all kind of look at this and are kind of envious in a way to just how well he does it and what this offense is about. Like I said, to be in here and be a part of it, is a really neat experience.”

• No playing for the streak — Manning was adamant Monday that he would not make a token appearance against the Texans in two weeks in order to keep his streak of consecutive starts at quarterback intact. He has started 208 regular-season games in a row, 227 counting the playoffs, after being drafted in 1998. That’s the longest active streak in the NFL.

“Absolutely not, no. Like I said [during a television interview during last Friday night’s preseason game with Green Bay], I have to be able to competitively play. I have too much respect for football. Could I go out there and take the opening snap or take a series? Yes, I could do that. Absolutely. But I’ve got to be able to compete and to help my team win. And that’s what’s fair to the team, fair to myself,” he stressed.

“I think my goal, what I’ve asked the organization, is for it to be my decision. Using the input of the doctors, Jim Caldwell, Erin [Barille], and [offensive coordinator] Clyde [Christenen]. Not to make any decision until that point, until we absolutely have to. They’ve promised me that they’ll allow that to be the case. And I feel I’ll make the right decision for the right reasons. But I don’t have to make it yet.”

• Roster moves — The Colts signed safety Michael Hamlin on Monday and waived/injured cornerback Cornelius Brown.

Hamlin is a two-year NFL veteran who has been with Dallas (2009-10) and Jacksonville (2010). He was originally a fifth-round selection by the Cowboys in the 2009 NFL Draft.

• Injury list — Among those sitting out Monday’s practice were safety Antoine Bethea (hamstring), wide receivers Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring) and Austin Collie (foot), offensive tackle Ryan Diem (groin) and wide receiver Blair White (PUP, back).

Returning for practice were safety Al Afalava (groin), linebacker Gary Brackett (elbow) and defensive end Robert Mathis (hamstring).

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