Manning Won’t Play in Colts’ First Game Amid Recovery From Neck Surgery

Peyton Manning will miss the Indianapolis Colts’ season opener because of a neck injury, the first time he hasn’t started a game since his freshman year at the University of Tennessee in 1994.

Manning’s absence means Kerry Collins, who came out of retirement to sign with the Colts on Aug. 24, will start at quarterback against the Texans on Sept. 11. The Colts are now 8 1/2-point underdogs, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers, who two weeks ago listed the Texans as 3-point favorites.

Manning, 35, has made 227 consecutive starts since joining the Colts in 1998, the most among active players and the second- longest for a quarterback in National Football League history behind Brett Favre’s 321. The last player to start at quarterback other than Manning was Jim Harbaugh, who is now coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

“To say I am disappointed in not being able to play is an understatement,” said Manning, who hasn’t made enough progress in his rehabilitation from offseason neck surgery. “It will be tough not to be out there playing for the organization and our fans. I simply am not healthy enough to play, and I am doing everything I can to get my health back.”

A four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, Manning has missed only one snap because of injury during his NFL career, in 2001 when he suffered a fractured jaw. His streak of 208 straight regular-season starts is the longest to begin a career, topping the previous NFL mark of 207 by offensive lineman Gene Upshaw for Oakland from 1967-81.

Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Peyton Manning has made 227 consecutive starts since joining the Colts in 1998, the most among active players and the second-longest for a quarterback in National Football League history behind Brett Favre’s 321. Close

Peyton Manning has made 227 consecutive starts since joining the Colts in 1998, the... Read More

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Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Peyton Manning has made 227 consecutive starts since joining the Colts in 1998, the most among active players and the second-longest for a quarterback in National Football League history behind Brett Favre’s 321.

‘One of a Kind’

“It’s going to be a little different playing without Peyton,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell told reporters. “He’s obviously one of a kind.”

Manning had surgery in May to repair a bulging disc in his neck, two months before he signed a new five-year, $90 million contract. He was cleared to practice on a limited basis on Aug. 29 before experiencing pain, and there is no timetable for his return, team Vice Chairman Bill Polian said yesterday on ESPN Radio’s “Ruocco and Lundberg” show.

Manning’s 54,828 yards passing, 399 passing touchdowns and 4,682 completions are all first among active players.

The 38-year-old Collins is second to Manning among active players with 40,441 passing yards. He’ll become the sixth quarterback to take a snap for the Colts during Manning’s NFL career, joining Steve Walsh, Mark Rypien, Brock Huard, Jim Sorgi and Curtis Painter, who will be the backup this week.

‘Run the Offense’

“I expect to run the offense, bottom line,” said Collins, who faced the Texans’ defense as quarterback for the AFC South- rival Tennessee Titans from 2006-10. “That’s to make the plays when they are there, be smart with the ball, make good reads, good decisions, get us in the right plays when the situation calls for it.”

With Manning’s run coming to an end, younger brother Eli Manning of the New York Giants now has the longest active streak for quarterbacks at 110 straight starts, including the playoffs. Eli Manning said he hasn’t spoken to his brother in the past few weeks, though they’ve exchanged text messages.

“If you can go through 13 years without missing a game, that’s impressive no matter what position or what sport,” Eli Manning told reporters. “I know he wants to be out there and he’s going to give it his all to get back out there.”

After playing in Houston, the Colts, who have made the playoffs 11 times in the past 12 years, host the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 18 and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 25.

“The team will do fine without me,” Peyton Manning said in his statement. “I know for sure that I will miss them much more than they will miss me.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net; Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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