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More pain in the neck for Colts quarterback

By Brian Tabakin

Section: Sports

September 9, 2011

After undergoing surgery May 23 to repair a bulging disk in his neck, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had a second surgery Thursday morning, Sept. 8.

During the past week, Manning consulted with team doctors and specialists on the best course of action for his neck. The doctors reached a consensus that Manning should undergo a cervical neck fusion.

The Colts released a statement Thursday afternoon calling the surgery “uneventful” and denied reports that Manning would be placed on season-ending injury reserve. They continued, saying, “Peyton will immediately begin the rehabilitation regimen mapped out by the surgeon. We anticipate no further updates or availabilities beyond those required by the NFL Media Policy for the immediate future.”

Archie Manning, Peyton’s father, related the following to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen concerning his son’s injury: “I think he’s OK, probably because there’s a little finality to this deal in terms of not playing. [Peyton has] been on the clock since May. He didn’t make it. Obviously, it’s a big letdown, but he can relax a little bit compared to the intensity of everything he has done trying to rehab.”

Cooper Manning, Peyton’s brother, had his promising college career ended by a similar neck injury.

Manning had already been ruled out for the season opener against the Houston Texans. However, the new surgery casts doubt over whether Manning will line up under center at all this year. The most optimistic recovery timetable from this particular surgery is two to three months, which would slate Manning for a return in late November or early December. Even if Manning was to return in time for the end of the season, however, he would likely not be able to sustain a bone-crunching hit from Ray Lewis or Mario Williams.

Stephania Bell, the physical therapy expert for ESPN, estimates it will be “a minimum of three months” before Manning is back on the field.

Manning will miss his first career NFL game. He had made 227 consecutive starts, including the post-season, for the Colts. Kerry Collins, will replace Manning as the starter for Sunday’s divisional matchup against the Texans. Collins will be the first quarterback, other than Manning, to start a game for the Colts since Jim Harbaugh, now the current coach of the San Francisco 49ers, started a game on Dec. 21, 1997. To put that into perspective, in the same time period the Chicago Bears have had 17 different starting quarterbacks and every other team in the league has started at least three different quarterbacks.

Manning has often been lauded as the single most important player to his team’s success. This season that notion will be put to the test. While Clyde Christensen is the official offensive coordinator for the Colts, he is more of a figurehead. In reality, Manning runs the offense from the huddle. The Colts’ offensive scheme is one of the most complicated in the league and it is unclear whether Kerry Collins will be able to master it in time for the season opener. With Manning, the Colts have always been a 10+ win team threatening to win the Super Bowl every year. Without him, the Colts will enter strange and unfamiliar territory: the role of an underdog.

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