According to the Indianapolis Star, Colts owner Jim Irsay admitted on WRTV that he does not envision quarterback Peyton Manning (neck) playing this season. It's something most have suspected for months, but it's the first time we've heard those words come from anybody in the Colts' upper management.
Here's what Irsay said:
These things take time. The best doctors can't predict. People often think someone knows for sure, and the answer is only time will tell. He is doing everything he can to get back and is working as hard as he can.
With no clear timetable for recovery and a lost season in Indianapolis, it's a wonder why Irsay and the Polians haven't put Manning on the season-ending IR. At the very least, the move would clear up a roster spot for a player to participate right now.
There's a couple of options here on what the Colts' management might be thinking.
First, they could be holding on to the last bits of hope that Manning could play or practice yet for the Colts this season. He's been cleared to throw by doctors, but practicing is still a no-go.
Seeing him in live game or practice situations can help the Colts gauge where his health is going to be at down the road. With a big draft pick looming in April, that information will be important to know.
If the Colts forecast him as a healthy quarterback in 2012, it may alter their plans to draft Stanford's Andrew Luck No. 1 overall. If Manning shows any signs of being an injury liability, the Colts may be forced to part ways with one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game and start over with Luck.
The possibility of seeing Manning for (potentially) the last time in a Colts uniforms could also be enough to keep him active. That chance might help the Colts sell tickets over the last couple of home games in what has turned into one of the most embarrassing seasons in Colts history. Never discount how money plays a role in any situation like this.
There's also the slim possibility that Irsay and the Colts have just recently decided that Manning won't be able to go this season and are in the search for a replacement. From my experience covering the Packers and GM Ted Thompson, I know that some teams don't place injured players on IR until they've found a suitable replacement. It's a far-fetched explanation, but it's one you could consider.
Overall, the first scenario is by far the most likely. The Colts need to get a grasp on where Manning is both as a player right now and in the future. The entire structure of the roster depends on it moving forward.