INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning walked into the locker room on Thursday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center with 'breaking news.'
"I have some breaking news, I'm coming down to the sideline this week," said Manning with a trademark smile as he playfully interacted with local media. "I just get a bad feeling being close to you all up there in the press box. I can just hear you all second-guessing every call and writing your story, so I have to get out of there. I've been cleared to go down there."
All those around him enjoyed the levity since such moments with Manning have not happened as frequently in 2011 as they did in the previous 13 seasons.
"Possibly, possibly," Manning jested when asked if would have to wear a helmet for protection. "Warm-ups are probably scarier than the game. Dallas (Clark) and these receivers, you throw passes to them and they throw them back, you never know where one's going to come. I'm going to try to ease down there."
Manning looks to assist in any way possible with his teammates and coaches while his rehabilitation progresses.
"They (doctors) do an x-ray every four weeks on that fusion and see how things are going," said Manning. "I got a good check-up on that. I've always wanted to get back down there (to the sidelines). I'm still pretty limited on how much I can help. My philosophy with Kerry (Collins) or Curtis (Painter), whoever's playing, is they kind of have to come to me. They have a lot of people in their ears, Coach Caldwell, (Offensive Coordinator) Clyde (Christensen), (Quarterbacks Coach) Ron (Turner). I think you have to understand Ron Turner has to coach them a little differently than me, telling them certain ways to read things. I don't want to interfere with that. I try to be down there just as a resource and encourage guys, somehow find a way to get a win on Sunday.
"I'm doing a little more (in my rehabilitation). I don't get into the details of the rehab. I still have work to do. Four weeks was something they (doctors) kind of wanted to wait. I can do a little more, which is good."
Looking comfortable and fit, Manning was asked if he felt good.
"I feel good," said Manning. "It's a very tough question to answer. You (people) say, 'How do you feel?' I'm feeling good. 'Well, that means in two weeks you should be feeling great and playing.' You have to be careful and not lead anybody on. I'm in good spirits. I have a good attitude. I come over here every day trying to get a little better. I really get tired of people trying to read my body language and moods. I don't know how you do that. I would like to think everybody's kind of down around here. We are 0-4. I feel that a little bit. I really have been in good spirits, good attitude. I kind of go week-to-week trying to get a little better. Hopefully, I can do that this week."
With a two-week view from a press box coaching booth and a lifetime of experience on the field, Manning sees advantages with each location.
"I really went up there (the press box) to kind of learn," said Manning. "You see why a coordinator would be up there. You can see a lot better up there. The best view is on the football field, there's no question about it. You can't see any better than you can when you're playing quarterback. I can see a little more up there in the box, but it's after the fact. You try to see a little more. Hopefully, I can see something from the sideline. It's easier if Clyde has a question for me, or if Curtis has a question for me. I like talking to the receivers and seeing what they're seeing out there. That communication with the receivers is always so important. We just have to find a way to get a win."
There is no time table set for Manning's return. He still has hope for a quick return, but he is realistic given the nature of his injury.
"You always have to have hope, until the doctors rule you out," said Manning. "Bill and Chris (Polian), they're in charge of the roster. We're having a lot of injuries. If they come and say they have to make a move, I won't fight them on that. They have to do what's best for the team. Until the doctors say differently, all I know to do is to believe in what they say. I am not a doctor. I hear a lot of medical jargon every day. I try to digest it, but I can't understand it at all. I would like to get back on the practice field first, get back out there and play. Until the doctors say that's not possible, you absolutely have to have hope.
"I appreciate people's prayers. I get a lot of mail and people tell me they're praying for me. I think there are more important things people should be praying for, but I do appreciate people praying for me. I think you have to have that hope."
With the team at 0-4, Manning was asked about the value there would be in a late-season return, if it is possible.
"It's hard to get into predictions at this point," said Manning. "The first quarter of the season hasn't gone the way we wanted it to, but you never know. You look at that Tampa game from eight years ago. Who would have thought we would have come back and beat them? It's a down time right now, but you never know when it can turn. To get back out there and practice and be on the field with some guys, I would love to do that. The good Lord is calling the plays, for one thing. He's calling my plays, and I'm not allowed to audible at this point. I'm following Him. After that, I have to listen to the doctors."
Manning was asked if he had heard any talk about the team being bad and possibly being in line for a very high draft pick. Manning dismissed any projections of that nature.
"I think it's early to say all those things," said Manning. "This is foreign territory for a lot of people. I'm the only guy that's been 0-4 (1998) on this team. We have to get the ship righted this week."
Observers commented again on Manning's easy nature at his locker.
"It's a new experience for me," said Manning. "Everybody asks, 'How are you handling that?' I say, 'I'm learning.' It is new for me. I think I do have it in the proper perspective. There are people out there who really need our prayers, people with serious illnesses, sicknesses…I do have it in perspective. I think I have a good attitude about it, and trying to get a little better each week."
Manning was asked about Curtis Painter's performance at Tampa Bay, and he stated clearly that analysis is not something he will do.
"One thing you will notice that I'm doing, I'm not going to get into the commentary on players," said Manning. "I never liked it where an injured player talked about the game when he wasn't playing. I've talked to Curtis, talked to Kerry and Reggie (Wayne) and Jeff (Saturday) and Dallas (Clark). I keep those conversations to myself. I'm pulling hard, like all true Colts fans are, to help us get a win on Sunday."
Kerry Collins continues to recover from the symptoms related to a possible concussion from the Pittsburgh game two weeks ago. The injury kept Collins out of the Tampa Bay game, and he is making improving.
"(I feel) a lot better. I continue to make progress," said Collins. "I haven't been cleared to play yet, but I'm making progress. It's still a day-by-day thing. (Let's) see how I do today. We still have a couple of days until the game, so we'll see what happens."
On the play that caused the injury, Collins was hit by Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior. Collins started noticing the affects of the hit.
"I started getting symptoms and started to get light-headed," said Collins. "I didn't feel like me being out there at the time was going to give the team the best chance to win."
Collins participated on a limited basis in Wednesday's practice. The team has not indicated this week's starter at this point. Collins was asked about the matter.
"We haven't talked about it. When I'm cleared to play, I'm sure it will be discussed," said Collins.