1:00 PM ET, September 11, 2011
NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
For the first time in his NFL career, Peyton Manning won't be in uniform. It turns out he might not be back in one for quite a while.
Longtime veteran Kerry Collins will start in place of the injured Manning, whose streak of 227 consecutive starts -- including playoffs -- will come to an end when the Indianapolis Colts visit the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The Colts announced Manning underwent another neck surgery Thursday and do no have a timetable for his return, though the four-time MVP is staying on the active roster.
Manning, who has started every game since he was selected No. 1 overall in the 1998 draft, first underwent surgery May 23 to repair a nerve in his neck and was expected to be ready in time for the start of training camp.
The recovery process, though, has taken much longer than expected. He wasn't activated from the physically unable to perform list until last Monday.
Manning was listed as doubtful earlier in the week but was officially ruled out Wednesday, ultimately snapping the second-longest starting streak in NFL history behind Brett Favre's run of 297 straight.
"You always have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," coach Jim Caldwell said.
"It's going to be a little different without Peyton. He's one of a kind. When you look across our league, most teams have had quarterbacks that have missed time. Ours has just been highly unusual."
With Manning sidelined, the Colts will throw the 38-year-old Collins under center. While some were in favor of seeing third-year backup Curtis Painter get the call, Collins, who had originally planned to retire before signing Aug. 24, is eager to prove himself.
"I really do feel like I've come a long way in a short period of time," said Collins, who has made 177 career starts and been to two Pro Bowls. "I expect to run the offense, bottom line. Make plays when they're there, be smart with the ball, make good reads, good decisions, get us into the right plays when the situation calls for it.
"I'm going into this week thinking I'm going to run the offense as best I can."
While Manning's absence will surely be tough to overcome, Houston may be without star running back Arian Foster as he continues to deal with a nagging strained left hamstring. Foster, who came under scrutiny for posting a photo of an MRI scan of his hamstring on Twitter last week, suffered the injury toward the beginning of camp and re-aggravated it during a preseason game Aug. 27.
He was the NFL's top rusher last season with 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also led all running backs with 604 receiving yards.
Coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday that Foster "has improved every day," but remains "day to day."
Foster rushed for a career-high 231 yards and three TDs during 2010's season-opening 34-24 win over the Colts, then ran for 102 and a score in a 30-17 defeat at Indianapolis on Nov. 1.
If Foster can't go, Derrick Ward and Ben Tate will likely split backfield duties. Tate, who was in the running for the starting job as a rookie last year before suffering a season-ending fractured right ankle, has impressed during the preseason.
Kubiak figures he can count on more big numbers from Matt Schaub (4,370 yards in 2010) and Andre Johnson, who leads all receivers with 4,360 yards over the last three seasons, but the defense likely must improve for the Texans to notch their first playoff berth. They ranked 30th in the NFL last season with 376.9 yards allowed per game en route to a 6-10 record.
Houston used six of its first eight draft picks on defensive players and signed highly regarded cornerback Johnathan Joseph to a five-year, $48.75 million deal in the offseason.
"I think everybody in the league recognizes that Gary's just done an outstanding job with the offense," chairman and CEO Bob McNair told the team's official website. "You take him and shore him up on the defensive side with (new defensive coordinator) Wade Phillips, who's as good as anybody in the business, now you've got both sides of the ball covered with outstanding people who are not going to be outcoached. I think we're in good shape."
Indianapolis, which was 10-6 last season and now seeks a third consecutive AFC South title, is 16-2 all-time against Houston.
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1. Indianapolis needs to protect the pocket. QB Peyton Manning will not play in Week 1. With Curtis Painter having two years in the system but not much experience reading defenses and Kerry Collins having a lot of experience reading coverages but not being in the system before this year, it will be imperative that the offensive line keep the pocket protected and the quarterback upright.
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|Avg Points Allowed||34.0||7.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||IND|
|Rush Yds Allowed||IND|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Indianapolis leads 17-3|
|Nov 1, 2010||IND 30, HOU 17|
|Sep 12, 2010||IND 24, @HOU 34|
|Nov 29, 2009||IND 35, @HOU 27|
|Nov 8, 2009||IND 20, HOU 17|
|Nov 16, 2008||IND 33, HOU 27|
|Oct 5, 2008||IND 31, @HOU 27|
|Dec 23, 2007||IND 38, HOU 15|
|Sep 23, 2007||IND 30, @HOU 24|
|Dec 24, 2006||IND 24, @HOU 27|
|Sep 17, 2006||IND 43, HOU 24|
|Nov 13, 2005||IND 31, HOU 17|
|Oct 23, 2005||IND 38, @HOU 20|
|Dec 12, 2004||IND 23, @HOU 14|
|Nov 14, 2004||IND 49, HOU 14|
|Dec 28, 2003||IND 20, @HOU 17|
|Oct 26, 2003||IND 30, HOU 21|
|Dec 1, 2002||IND 19, HOU 3|
|Sep 22, 2002||IND 23, @HOU 3|
Last season the Colts relied more on passing out of the shotgun than any other team in the NFL. While Kerry Collins certainly has experience, passing out of the shotgun simply is not something he does well. If the Colts are to be successful going from one of the league's best shotgun quarterbacks to one of the worst, perhaps they might want to re-think their strategy.[+]
A Major Step Down - Shotgun Formation, NFL Ranks Last Season
If Joseph Addai and the Colts running game can get going, Kerry Collins brings to the table something Peyton Manning did not: impeccable accuracy in play-action.[+]
Jim Irsay's most recent Tweet suggests that Payton Manning's consecutive start streak may be in serious jeopardy. Currently Manning has started 208 straight games and hasn't missed a start in his NFL career.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information