The Colts released a statement yesterday regarding the status of QB Peyton Manning's neck fusion, indicating it had "achieved firm fixation." Manning included a blurb in that release, so I didn't expect him to say much of anything at his locker today. Luckily, I was wrong - he spent more than 10 minutes answering questions from a locker room full of reporters. You can watch the interview on Colts.com, or read Phil B. Wilson's and Phil Richards' transcript. There are also a number of summaries and quotes from various news outlets, but here were my key takeaways:
- When asked how he feels, Manning replied, "Physically, I feel good. I feel good." I wish the reporter had asked him how his arm feels, or more specifically, if he can feel his arm, but I have been waiting to hear him say something about how he feels, and now I have it.
- When asked if he'd been running, he chuckled and said that he had been. He also indicated he had been throwing already. My guess is that he's not been doing very much running or throwing, but it is a good sign that he's progressed beyond the elliptical. It was unclear whether he was still referring to throwing a Nerf ball as "throwing." One of the things I really liked about this? that the team seemingly has not rushed out the very instant that Manning took a step forward to let the world know about it. Showing some restraint after the news fans have endured to date is a smart move - imagine if everyone learned he had started running, and then he suffered another setback?
- He conducted the interview in the middle of a weight training routine... it seems as though they've already begun the next phase of rehabilitation.
- He looked happy, cracking a smile and joking several times during the interview. My favorite joke was his talking about trying to change the space-time continuum so Dr. Watkins could interpret his xrays faster. Peyton has historically been excellent at maintaining a positive demeanor with the press, but he seemed genuinely relieved and cautiously optimistic about the next steps.
- There is still a long way to go. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, it is difficult to not take this news and run with it. My colleague Greg reminds me that just as I couldn't get too low with the negative news we'd been hit with until now, I also can't get too high with this most recent update. Manning was crystal clear in the interview today that, "There is no schedule. Never has been. That’s one thing that I think I’ve made clear from the get-go: there is no timetable on this thing."
Given how far Manning has progressed to date, my most optimistic scenario still does not have him playing in a game this year. I am hopeful that he can see the practice field during the last week of the season, which is only just over a month away.