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Thursday, September 8, 2011
So how indispensable is Manning?

By Paul Kuharsky


Even the most optimistic timetable puts Peyton Manning's recovery from cervical fusion neck surgery at two months. And I’m thinking a two-month recovery doesn’t mean fit to get hit by Mario Williams in two months.

ESPN's resident physical therapist, Stephania Bell, says she thinks it'll be a minimum of three months before he can play.

For years Manning’s been classified as the most indispensable player in the NFL and perhaps all of team sports. I think it’s likely true, but we’re about to find out just how much of a difference there is between a guy who may be the greatest of all time and an old quarterback who’s been good in spurts but who’s been best at lasting a long time.

No offense intended at all to Kerry Collins.

It’s news that certainly prompts me to change my preseason pick of the Colts to win the division.

Houston’s the favorite now. And if the Texans can’t take the division and get into the playoffs, surely it will mark the end of coach Gary Kubiak’s tenure. It also means better chances for Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Archie Manning said this to Chris Mortensen about Peyton Manning’s state of mind after Thursday’s surgery:
"I think he's OK, probably because there's a little finality to this deal in terms of playing," the elder Manning told Mortensen. "He's 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."

One other thought as I begin to reflect on the news that Manning could now land on IR. (They've let people linger hurt without making the IR move for months at times, I could see them waiting on Manning for a while.)

Because this has happened doesn’t mean the Colts’ approach to the backup quarterback spot has been wrong. I’ve said their Plan B in these circumstances was insufficient, and, at the very least, they should have brought in Collins at the start of camp. But for 13 years before that, I have no issue.

Philosophically, they’ve invested little in the spot since drafting Manning first overall in 1998, and it’ll cost them zero with regard to wins and losses. If they go 0-16 this year, which they won’t, you can say in 14 years they didn’t pay the No. 2 quarterback much attention and they lost one season as a result. I’d sign up for that. I can’t think of a team that wouldn’t.