The Indianapolis Colts say quarterback Peyton Manning is still suffering soreness and his return is doubtful for Sunday’s game at Houston following off-season neck surgery.
If Manning sits, it would be the first time the NFL’s active iron man missed a meaningful game after 227 consecutive starts including the playoffs.
“I hate it for Peyton,” said Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, one of Manning’s closest friends. “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.”
Peyton has a remarkable record as a starter. The question is whether the Colts can survive without Manning, their franchise quarterback, whose streak stands second in NFL history to Brett Favre’s among all quarterbacks.
Team officials have not said how much longer it could take Manning to recover, leaving that decision to Peyton and his doctors.
Over the years, life without Manning has been pretty dismal.
The only time he missed a regular-season snap because of injury, against Miami in 2001, backup Mark Rypien fumbled. The Dolphins recovered, then drove 59 yards for the winning score. Manning returned on the next series with a bloody mouth.
Manning was later diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his jaw. On the rare occasions when Peyton has played sparingly, in the preseason and meaningless late-season games, the Colts have not fared much better. The team needs their quarterback, but the fans understand that it’s important to keep him healthy.