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Manning has second neck surgery, could miss season

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Another neck surgery has put Peyton Manning
back in rehab and left his status for the 2011 season in jeopardy.
Manning underwent surgery for the third time in 19 months
Thursday, a procedure that is likely to keep the four-time MVP out
significantly longer than just Sunday's season opener at Houston --
the first game he will miss in 14 NFL seasons.
Team officials called Thursday's surgery "uneventful."
"The procedure is performed regularly throughout the county on
persons of all walks of life, including professional football
players," the team said in a statement. "Rehabilitation from such
surgery is typically an involved process. Therefore, there will be
no estimation of a return date at this time. We will keep Peyton on
the active roster until we have a clear picture of his recovery
process."
The Colts statement came just hours after team owner Jim Irsay
wrote on Twitter that Manning would be out "awhile" and coach Jim
Caldwell promised to provide more clarity soon. They could have put
Manning on injured reserve to open up a roster spot, but that would
have meant he would not play at all in a season that will end with
in February with the Super Bowl played at Lucas Oil Stadium in
downtown Indianapolis.
Shortly after ESPN first reported the surgery, team officials
confirmed that Manning had an anterior fusion procedure to treat
the nerve problem that was continuing to give him trouble.
"Peyton will immediately begin the rehabilitation regimen
mapped out by the surgeon," the team said.
For Manning, one of the league's true ironmen, it was a
continuation of the most frustrating offseason of his career.
He already has dealt with a 4½-month lockout that prevented him
from working out with team trainers after his May 23 surgery to
repair a nerve. He also couldn't negotiate a new contract with the
Colts during the lockout. Then he started training camp on the
physically unable to perform list, which prevented him from working
out with teammates until Aug. 29.
After one week of practice, left Manning with a sore back. And
now surgery just one day after the Colts ruled him out of Sunday's
game, ending a streak of 227 consecutive starts including the
playoffs that was second only to Brett Favre among NFL
quarterbacks.
The 35-year-old Manning, who signed a five-year, $90 million
contract in July, also had neck surgery in February 2010.
With Manning, the Colts have been a perennial Super Bowl
contender. Without him, the most dominant team in the AFC South
since its creation faces a daunting challenge -- trying to become
the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium without
having Manning behind center for what could be a significant
portion of the season.
Speculation over another surgical procedure ramped up earlier
this week and team owner Jim Irsay created even more buzz Thursday
morning when he gave fans the latest update on Manning's condition
via Twitter.
"We had a good practice yesterday and r guys r fired up 4 the
season. (hash)18's out for awhile, but compete, we will/BELIEVE,"
Irsay tweeted.
The biggest question is when he will be back.
The Colts thought Manning would return within 6-8 weeks after
surgery, but the rehab has taken far longer than anyone expected.
On Monday, the team issued a statement saying his progression
slowed last week, too.
"In terms of the timeframe we're talking about, I think he
(Irsay) is also stating we don't know what kind of a timeframe.
None of us know," Caldwell said before the surgery was announced.
"It is a little bit in flux at this point."
If he does come back, Manning also will be playing behind an
offensive line that has three new starters and a fourth, Ryan Diem,
who is moving from right tackle to right guard.
The player who can empathize most with Manning is running back
Joseph Addai, who injured a nerve in his left shoulder Oct. 17
against Washington, then missed the next eight games.
There were times, Addai recalled, that he would wake up during
the night with sudden pain. There were other times that he couldn't
hold up a microphone or the ball would drop out of his hands with a
slight bump.
Addai figured the ensuing bye week would give him enough time to
heal, but it took him more than two months to get back into a game
and he still didn't feel 100 percent until this season.
"After a while it came back, but you don't really know when
it's going to come back," Addai said. "It's frustrating."
Addai said Manning had asked him about the experience, something
the two have discussed at length since players reported to camp
July 31. Addai said he has not yet caught passes from Manning at
full speed and he can't say where Manning's recovery is right now.
Instead, he's worried about playing the Texans without Manning.
"You know how important Peyton is," Addai said. "I think
everybody has to step it up."
Kerry Collins is expected to replace Manning in the lineup
Sunday, making him the first Colts quarterback other than Manning
to start a game since Jim Harbaugh on Dec. 21, 1997.
The only other time Manning has missed a regular-season snap
because of injury was in 2001 against Miami. Backup Mark Rypien
fumbled. The Dolphins recovered and drove 59 yards for the winning
score. Manning returned on the next series with a bloody mouth. He
was later diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his jaw.
Manning, who rarely misses a snap even at practice, has
occasionally been sidelined during the preseason.
He sat out one week of training camp in 1998 before signing his
rookie contract. A decade later, he missed all of training camp
after having surgery twice to remove an infected bursa sac from his
left knee. He also missed some practices after injuring his knee
during a preseason game against Minnesota in 2001.
Since being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in 2008, Manning
has led the Colts to 11 playoff appearances, 11 double-digit
winning seasons, eight division crowns, two AFC titles and a Super
Bowl championship.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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