Dungy Optimistic Manning Will Start Regular-Season Opener
INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning's goal may be more reachable than ever.
That was the view of Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy Thursday night, shortly after the Colts' 27-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2008 preseason finale.
Manning, the Colts' eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback who missed the preseason after undergoing off-season knee surgery, went through his pre-game warm-up routine for the first time in 2008 on Thursday night, telling Dungy afterward he felt good.
Manning's goal throughout the preseason has been to start against the Bears in the regular-season opener on September 7.
On Thursday night, Dungy said he expected Manning to do so.
"I would be shocked if he's not there Sunday," Dungy said. "He would have to have a dramatic setback. Right now, every step we've taken has been good. He did a little bit on Tuesday. He did a lot more close to his regular workload on Wednesday.
"He warmed up today and felt good, so I'd be very, very surprised if he's not ready to go."
Manning, who underwent surgery to remove an infected bursa sac in his knee 10 days before the start of Colts training camp on July 24, attended the team's preseason loss to Buffalo this past Sunday night. Tuesday and Wednesday were his first official practices since undergoing surgery.
"What he wanted to do was really kind of simulate what he wanted to do on game day and see how everything felt, and if he wanted to alter his routine for next Sunday," Dungy said. "I think he came away feeling pretty good about it. He wanted to see how loose he'd be after the wait in the locker room and that type of thing.
"We had an exercise bike out there for him, but I think he's pretty happy with the way his routine went. He told me on the sideline if he had started the game he would have felt in good shape and ready to go and loose enough to go.
"That was the big thing I think he wanted to accomplish."