It’s becoming something of a monthly ritual.
Quarterback Peyton Manning, sidelined undergoing neck fusion surgery Sept. 8, meets with the Indianapolis Colts’ media corps once each month to discuss his ongoing rehabilitation process.
Manning spoke Thursday on a wide range of subjects, including the possibility of returning to the practice field before the end of the current season.
“Not a whole lot to report. Still waiting for the fusion to take place. That takes place, [surgeons] thought, between two and three months. Still going slow with that,” he said.
“I still have some of the same issues I had before the fusion as far as the nerves and the regeneration. Still dealing with that, the idea being that this surgery gave me the most stability for the nerves to regenerate. That’s still a process there.”
Albeit a slow, gradual process, Manning readily admitted.
“I kind of go a week at a time, try to get a little better each week. Still have some restrictions on what I’m allowed to do. I’m still positive about things improving. I still have some work to do,” he said.
“There’s really not a schedule and there’s really not a timeline. It’s sort of how I am at different check points. I really think I would say the first of December is probably the next check point. That will be three months from the surgery. See where I am from the strength standpoint at that time, from a conditioning standpoint. I just can’t give a prediction of where I’m going to be. I don’t think anybody really can because as I’ve said all along, this injury is one that is a little bit unpredictable.”
Manning still holds out hope of being able to return to practice at some point this year.
“If I was cleared and able to do that, it would be nice to be able to do that, to go out and participate in a team practice where everything is right there with you, even though you probably couldn’t do everything. So that’s a hope and a wish,” he said.
“If I were to get cleared to play and felt good enough to play, the doctor said it was OK, yeah, I would absolutely love to because that’s how I’m wired. That’s my job and I miss not being able to do my job. Once again, that’s another prediction type of question. I just can’t really give you that answer as to where I am. In December, I can probably give you a more realistic answer with four games left. But, sure, would I like to? Absolutely, whether it was one game, two games or a couple plays. I miss playing.”
The four-time NFL MVP understands that a majority of the team’s fans and followers don’t think that it would be a good idea to try and play this year due to the Colts’ poor start this season.
“I know a lot of people like to provide their thoughts and they say, ‘Wow, he’d be crazy to do that.’ But this is all new to me. This is my first time dealing with it. All I know is I like playing. I enjoy being out there. I miss being out there in the huddle,” Manning said.
“When I’m on that sideline looking out at the huddle, even though I’m probably just 25 yards from the huddle, it feels like I’m a million miles away. To all of a sudden have a chance to be back out there, sure I’d like to do it.”
He artfully sidestepped questions about next April’s NFL draft and Andrew Luck, Stanford’s quarterback who is expected to be the first player selected.
“That’s a lot of speculation and I don’t think that’s fair to the players that are playing, to speculate on what draft choice the Colts will have. We might win eight in a row starting Sunday and I certainly hope that we do,” Manning said.
“It’s hard for me to speculate on things like that when I’m not playing and Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne, these guys are out there fighting for their lives, trying to win every game. We’ve never talked about what draft pick we were going to have before during the past 13 years, so I don’t think it’s fair to do [that] now.”
As for the upcoming offseason and his contract (Manning signed a five-year deal in August but the contract is actually a one-year deal with a four-year extension), he’d prefer to talk about those issues at a later date.
“The contract, I was the one that helped construct it in the manner that it is. It was my recommendation, that I wasn’t healthy when I signed the contract and if I’m not healthy in February, I think it’s fair for the Colts to be able to make their decision there,” Manning explained.
“The other reason for the December, the ability to possibly practice would be for the Colts to have a fair evaluation of where I am. We’re in full disclosure with each other.”
• Irsay also talks — Team owner Jim Irsay also held court Thursday afternoon the Colts media. Irsay discussed a myriad of topics, most of which related to Manning or the immediate future of the franchise.
“What you want to see is for him to keep making progress, to get back to the point where you can say he’s making all the throws and doing the things he needs to do,” he said. “The truth is it’s a slow progression and to say that he would hit a ceiling Dec. 15 or Jan. 1 and he’s not going to get any better, that’s really uncertain.”
As for his plans heading into next season and beyond, Irsay didn’t offer very much.
“I think it’s too early to bury this era,” he said. “I think to say that Peyton is done and the era is over is, to me, way, way too premature. I’ve always sort of known that era would be decided when Peyton is here. But I don’t feel like that era is done.
“We have not had this much uncertainty [about the future] in a long, long time, but I think it’s exciting. I’m more interested in getting back to greatness and having a chance to sustain it. I’m not interested in middling around at 8-8 or 9-7 and sneaking into the playoffs for the next decade.”
• Harrison added to Ring of Honor? — It’s not official yet, but all indications are that former Indianapolis wide receiver Marvin Harrison will be added to the team’s “Ring of Honor” at Lucas Oil Stadium.
No date has been set, but recent tweets from Irsay about Harrison and the Ring of Honor appear headed in that direction.
• Injury list — Thursday participation: DNP — LB Pat Angerer (knee), CB Terrence Johnson (hamstring), DE Robert Mathis (rest), WR Blair White (knee). Limited — OT Anthony Castonzo (ankle), DT Drake Nevis (back), OG Mike Pollak (hamstring).
Full — RB Joseph Addai (hamstring), LB Kavell Conner (rest), TE Dallas Clark (knee), OT Ryan Diem (ankle), TE Brody Eldridge (knee), DE Dwight Freeney (rest), OT Quinn Ojinnaka (shoulder), C Jeff Saturday (knee).
It’s becoming something of a monthly ritual.
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