Manning on a Week 1 comeback: ‘I’m right in the middle of it’

The Indianapolis Colts' recent acquisition of formerly retired veteran quarterback Kerry Collins had a lot of Colts fans wondering if Peyton Manning's recovery from neck surgery would allow him to start the season — and continue his amazing streak of never missing a game from 1998 through 2010. During the Colts' 24-21 Week 3 preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers on Friday, Manning talked with CBS sideline reporter Sam Ryan and had a more hopeful diagnosis than many might have imagined.

"I'm right in the middle of it — working very hard every single day," he said. "My trainers and weight coaches have done a tremendous job helping me, and I'm really putting them to work … I have some more left to do, and I still have some time, and I'm going to use that time. At the appropriate time, I think I'll know what the right decision is, and with the help of coach [Jim] Caldwell, I'll make that decision, and we'll go from there."

Ryan noticed Manning talking to Collins through the entire first half, and asked if Manning saw himself starting Week 1.

"I sure hope so, Sam — I've never missed a game in my entire football career due to injury, since I was 13 years old. I sure don't want to start Week 1 of this season. That's my goal; to go out there and play. And not just to play, but to play competitively. I want to be out there to help my team win. And if I'm able to do so, I'll be out there. So I'm going to use this valuable time — these next few weeks — and we'll see what happens when the time is right."

Manning, a Tennessee alum, then had some kind words for Lady Vols basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt, who is battling early onset dementia. "I talked to coach today -- she was in great spirits and I've been praying for her every day. I know a lot of people are praying for her. She may be one of the toughest people I know, and I appreciate her courage. I admire her for that, and everybody's pulling for her. We all love her. Pat Summit truly is the best."

Getting back to the Colts' best … Caldwell, who was in a press conference when team owner Jim Irsay tweeted the news that Collins had been signed earlier this week, recently indicated that Manning could indeed be activated soon. NFL rules require that all players on the preseason physically unable to perform list must be activated by Sept. 3, or go on the PUP list for six regular-season weeks.

"I would say that it's certainly a realistic possibility here and it could happen shortly," Caldwell said.

That's news that might even make Reggie Wayne happy.

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