Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC South [Print without images]

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Manning, Collins both need practice work

By Paul Kuharsky

Colts coach Jim Caldwell and his offensive coordinator, Clyde Christensen, are about to face a very complicated stretch.

Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning has been cleared to participate in practice on a limited basis.
Once Thursday night’s preseason finale at Cincinnati is in the books and the Colts are home, they’ve got to make plans or revise them for their quarterbacks in preparation for the Sept. 11 opener at Houston.

With Peyton Manning off the physically unable to perform list, the team said it has started him with limited, scripted work.

But isn’t all practice work scripted? There aren’t really such a thing as freelance practice periods. We don’t know when Manning will be turned loose for full practice where he might see something more unexpected. They likely won’t give us any indication until next Wednesday when they will have to say they he was out, limited or participated fully in practice.

The game plan will be shaped or refined early in the week. It’s got to be a lot different than it would be for Manning if Kerry Collins is going to start. So how do you draw that up?

How do the coach and coordinator then divide practice reps when Manning is used to taking them all?

If he's free to further test himself, Manning will need reps to maximize his chance to be ready. And Collins will need them as he’s still very much a newcomer and needs every play he can get surrounded by unfamiliar people.

The hope is the Colts will know if Manning can or can’t be in the lineup and can plan accordingly. But even if they do, things can change with a guy coming off an injury like Manning’s. They’ll have to be able to adjust as the week pans out.

This all could have been easier if Collins had been signed sooner. The Colts, though, maintained unreasonable faith in Curtis Painter and Manning’s rehab for too long, and added Collins too late.

Now they face a preparation period for their opener that could be awfully difficult.