The Indianapolis Colts are preparing to launch the NFL season with a game against the Houston Texans on Sunday and now the unthinkable might happen, after 227 consecutive starts which includes playoff appearances, star QB Peyton Manning may be forced to sit out the season opener.
The news comes as Manning continues to experience neck pain caused by a preseason neck injury, while the loss of Manning would give Kerry Collins control of the Colts, a likely situation since Manning’s neck soreness actually increased over the weekend.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the team won’t attempt another surgery on his neck.
Pro Bowl Center Jeff Saturday chimed in on the situation on Monday:
“I hate it for Peyton,” while adding, “You want him to be healthy, you want him to be back, but you want him to take care of it, too. It’s sad when players face tough times, but I know he’s strong enough to get through it.”
Putting Manning’s only absence in perspective, the only game he has missed any play in came during Miami in 2001 when backup Mark Rypien fumbled the ball on his only possession, Peyton returned on the next play, despite a bloody mouth at which time he drove the ball 59 yards for the winning touchdown.
For their part Manning’s teammates are attempting to keep a positive outlook including safety Antoine Bethea who said:
“If anything, we want to go out there and step it up,” while adding, “Of course it will be different (without Manning), but it’s one of those things that if it happens, everybody else has to step up. It’s next man up.”
Manning underwent surgery on May 23 to repair a nerve that was injured during play, an injury that was expected to heal within six to eight weeks, however Manning was placed on the physically unable to perform list as pre-season play began and was only activated last Monday.
Limited workouts at camp last week led to complaints about increased pain in his neck.
At this time it’s still unclear how severe Manning’s injury remains.