INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Peyton Manning’s streak is over.
Manning will not play Sunday in the season opener at Houston, bringing an end to his streak of 227 consecutive starts, including the playoffs. The Colts said 38-year-old Kerry Collins will get the start against the Texans.
Manning has not been able to fully recover from neck surgery in May. During his streak, he has led the Colts to 11 playoff appearances, 11 double-digit win seasons, eight division crowns, two AFC titles and the first Super Bowl championship in the franchise’s Indianapolis era.
The streak is the second longest among NFL quarterbacks behind only Brett Favre.
“It’s going to be a little different without Peyton. He’s one of a kind,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “When you look across our league, most teams have had quarterbacks that have missed time. Ours has just been highly unusual.”
Manning had been listed as doubtful for the game, but losing him for any time is a shock to Indy fans, not to mention his teammates. Not only has the four-time NFL MVP never missed a start, he’s rarely missed practice.
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Manning sat out one week of training camp in 1998 before signing his rookie contract. A decade later, he missed all of training camp in 2008 because he underwent surgery twice to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee.
The only other time his playing status was in doubt was 2001 after he was injured at Minnesota in a preseason game.
He had always made it back for game day. Not this time.
“To say I am disappointed in not being able to play is an understatement,” Manning said in a statement released by the team. “The best part about football is being out there on the field playing with my teammates. 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. The team will do fine without me, and I know for sure that I will miss them much more than they miss me.”
Manning had neck surgery to repair a nerve May 23, but the recovery has taken longer than the expected 6-8 weeks that would have put him back on the field for the start of training camp. Instead, he started camp on the physically unable to perform list and wasn’t activated until last Monday.
He did limited work at practice last week, which led to complaints about back pain. The team issued a statement saying that team doctors had re-evaluated Manning and instructed him to stop practicing while he undergoes more tests. No additional surgery has been scheduled.
Caldwell said the bad news only became clear Wednesday.
“We always knew it was a chance,” he said. “That’s what doubtful means. You always have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Caldwell said he had confidence in Collins, who was lured out of retirement by the Colts just a few weeks ago as Manning’s recovery dragged on.
“The guy’s thrown for 40,000 yards. He can throw the ball,” Caldwell said.
Collins has made 177 career starts and been to two Pro Bowls. He took the Carolina Panthers to the 1996 NFC Championship game and the New York Giants to the Super Bowl after the 2000 season. He helped Tennessee post the AFC’s best record (13-3) in 2008.
Still, he has had less than two weeks to learn Indy’s pass-first offense, which has traditionally called plays at the line of scrimmage. He didn’t even play with Pro Bowlers Reggie Wayne or Dallas Clark in a preseason game, and the Colts will open the season with three new starters on the offensive line and a fourth, former right tackle Ryan Diem, moving inside to guard.
He also now carries the expectations of fans hoping Indy can become the first host team to play in the Super Bowl in February.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)