If you happen to be outside in the next two weeks and hear the echoes of distant screams, don't panic, it's only Indianapolis Colts fans contemplating Peyton Manning not being ready to play in week 1. That's right, those spoiled followers of the Colts, who haven't had to worry about the quarterback position for what feels like decades, may be without their 227 consecutive game starter come week 1 of the regular season when they face the Houston Texans.
Peyton, who is recovering from neck surgery had in the offseason, is making steady progress since the lockout ended and he was allowed access to Indy's medical staff but it's becoming increasingly clear that his rehab effort may extend beyond preseason.
"I certainly want to be out there, and it's hard to keep track of the hours I've spent in rehab," Manning said Saturday. "I was short-changed a little bit by the lockout and I'm going to need every bit of the next two weeks, and then I can give you more of an update with where I am."
While that isn't a definitive no to returning before the season, that's not a yes either. So without any sense of certainty, the Colts went out and did the only thing they could, they signed a veteran quarterback to take the reigns in case Manning isn't ready to go. It was announced today that Indy managed to convince former Tennessee Titans QB Kerry Collins to come out of retirement. Collins was always a favorite of Colts GM Bill Polian, who drafted the QB for Carolina back in 1995, so it comes as no surprise that he was able to persuade him back on the field.
The signing was first announced by owner Jim Irsay on Twitter and the team confirmed the move in a news release today.
"It is a good opportunity to have Kerry become part of the team," Colts coach Jim Caldwell said in the team's release. "He is a veteran quarterback who has started many games and he brings dimension and depth to the quarterback position, which will be helpful. He is familiar with our division and will make a great addition to our roster."
Collins, who can best be described as a serviceable quarterback, would be a huge downgrade at the position if Peyton isn't ready to go (then again, so would most starters in the NFL). He's older, slower and while he still can show flashes of greatness, his best days are clearly behind him. He's also a big improvement over Curtis Painter, Indy's most recent backup, who has failed to impress this preseason so far.
With a tough schedule to start the year that includes games against Houston, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Tampa Bay, the Colts can ill afford poor quarterback play. Of course, without Peyton under center on a team that was designed for him, poor quarterback play is to be expected.
So buckle up Indy fans and start wishing for a miracle recovery because without Peyton, you're officially screwed.