Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell told the Indianapolis Star today that Peyton Manning will be in Colts training camp when things get rolling in Anderson on Sunday, but that Number 18 won’t be ready to play/practice. Color me surprised!
Not only is Manning 35 years old, and not only is he recovering from neck surgery in late May, and not only is it 131 degrees outside, but there is also the little matter of a contract negotiation hovering in the Indianapolis sports skyline like a neon blue blimp with flaming horseshoes hung from its bow. One of the records that Manning conceivably has in his sights is the consecutive games started mark held by none other than Brett Favre. It’s probably not coincidental that Favre has spent the last several years of his career doing everything in his power to avoid training camp, thereby saving wear and tear on his “maturing” physique. Manning is entering those same golden years, where every hit is more of an affront to his longevity than the last, and he and the Colts need to preserve his health and talent as well as possible. That is especially true for Manning this pre-season, since he is in camp wearing the franchise tag and has little security for the future in terms of his contract.
Simply put, Manning has little incentive to lay his body on the pre-season altar this time around, and a lot of reasons to stay away. My guess is that he will be healed shortly after a new long-term contract is worked out. If that doesn’t happen, we may not see our legendary signal caller until September 11, in Houston, trying to shake the rust off against an improved Texans team. Won’t that be fun?