INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning is back. Whether he is ready to play is still an open question.
The Colts activated Manning from the physically unable to perform list Monday. A few hours later, the four-time MVP pulled on his white No. 18 jersey and a helmet, and jogged onto the practice field, renewing hopes that he might actually play in the season opener at Houston on Sept. 11 four months after neck surgery.
“That’s kind of been my goal all along, trying to get better and I know everybody’s into predictions and everybody wants to have the breaking news,” an upbeat Manning said. “But I just can’t give you any more than what I’m giving you.”
What everyone wants to know, of course, is whether Manning will be ready. Nobody, including Manning, will say that yet and he said again that he won’t play in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Cincinnati.
Clearly, though, Manning is getting closer. He acknowledged that he is healthy enough right now to take a snap or play a series to keep his consecutive-games streak intact but insists he won’t.
“Like I said the other night, I have to be able to competitively play,” he said. “I have too much respect for football. 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.”
Manning has started 227 consecutive games, including the playoffs, the second-longest streak in NFL history for quarterbacks behind Brett Favre.
Manning had been on the PUP since the team’s first training camp practice on Aug. 1 following the May procedure to repair a nerve in his neck. The Colts were facing a Saturday deadline to make the move or Manning would have missed Indianapolis’ first six games.