AFC South: Erin Barill

The text of a news release from the Colts on quarterback Peyton Manning's rehabilitation:
Statement by Dr. Robert Watkins following 5:00 pm EDT conference call with Peyton Manning and Colts Medical Staff on 12/1/11:

“X-ray and CT examination of the surgical area shows that the fusion performed in September has achieved firm fixation,” said Dr. Robert Watkins. “Peyton will now be allowed to increase the intensity and breadth of his workouts as tolerated. There remains every indication that his recovery will continue. There still is no timetable for Peyton’s return to practice, which is one of many steps in his expected return to game action. He is working hard on a rehabilitation program outlined in conjunction with myself, Erin Barill and Peyton. His response to this plan in the future will dictate his return date.”

“I am encouraged with what Doc had to say,” said Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. “I am happy that I can increase my rehabilitation program as outlined by him, Erin and the Colts Medical Staff. I am hopeful for continued progress in this next phase of my rehab.”

We’ve said there is too much guessing going on regarding Peyton Manning.

Now Indianapolis Colts team president Jim Irsay has tweeted to squash the latest rumor, that Manning had recent surgery. He also said Manning is out "awhile." There is a lot of talk about the quarterback's timetable, and it presumes knowledge we just don’t have.

I’m hearing shouts like this: Why did Manning wait until May 23 to have surgery?

The answer to your questions, though, is a bunch more questions.

How do we know that Manning needed surgery before then? Isn’t it likely that doctors went first with a conservative approach? Isn’t a procedure that comes with a six-to-eight-week recovery timetable completely reasonable in the spring when considering a fall season? Couldn’t Manning have suffered a new injury or worsened the old one, requiring something in May that he hadn't needed in January?

Just like the timetable for his return, we don’t know, we don’t know and we don’t know.

I’m impatient, too. I want information. I can jump to conclusions. But here is a call for caution and consideration.

Manning joked about HIPAA, the federal law protecting medical privacy, and we’re never going to learn all we’d like. Maybe he’ll be back in a few weeks. Maybe another surgery would put him out longer.

We should not be claiming, though, to know that anything medical has been mismanaged.

The primary thing that was mismanaged was Plan B. The Colts failed to sufficiently prepare early enough for the alternate universe -- the one without Manning.

One more thing: The idea that Manning would be good to go right now had he been rehabbing with the Colts’ medical staff instead of being forced by the lockout to find other doctors? Pure nonsense.

Colts director of rehabilitation Erin Barill is excellent at his job, I am certain. Manning couldn’t be with him during the lockout and hated that. But Barill doesn’t have some magic dust other rehab specialists lack that would have regenerated a nerve in Manning’s neck.

So for now, we know only what is being said by Manning and the team. There's no sense in speculating beyond that.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Meet Erin Barill.

You've probably never heard of him before today. But if you're paying attention to developments regarding Peyton Manning's left knee, you heard seven references to Barill in Manning's first public comments in nearly a month.

Here are two of the premium mentions:

"Like I said, this has been a totally new process for me and I have learned to put my full trust in Erin. He and I have had some pretty heated discussions. Certainly it has not been the most enjoyable process that I've been through, but he's been great because he's challenged me and he's really kept me on an even keel as far as trying to make constant progress. Certainly all along that has been our goal, to try to get back on to the field in order to play in that first game. As to when I'm going to be back on the practice field, that has yet to be determined. It just depends on how everything goes from here on out. I need to have a good week this week. Obviously the sooner, the better for me, but I'm still sticking to Erin's advice and going based on how I feel and I feel that's the best plan for us at this point."

And:

"I know I have the right guy in Erin leading me down the right path and hopefully we can just keep progressing."

Barill, 38, is in his sixth season with the Colts, his third as director of rehabilitation. He holds two degrees from West Virginia. Before joining the Colts, he worked for 11 years as a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Methodist Sports Medicine Center in Indianapolis.

One other thing that struck me out of the transcript of Manning's comments today. The Colts have said that rookie tight end Tom Santi, who had the same surgery two weeks earlier, has been kind of a test case for them. I've repeatedly written we can look to Santi's progress to guess where Manning will be in two weeks.

The quarterback did his best to tamp that down Tuesday without offering any specifics.

"It really isn't [similar], actually," he said. "Somehow that's gotten out there that that's been the comparative bar. That's probably been the biggest misnomer. That has not really been an accurate comparison. I've had some different things to deal with than Tom has and that's probably provided a little bit more of a challenge to me. Hopefully he's going to be out there soon, but I've had a little bit of different things to deal with than Tom."

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