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Irsay: Manning may return in December

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP)

The Indianapolis Colts' position on Peyton Manning hasn't changed.

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He's still on the active roster, still going through rehabilitation and may yet return later this season.

Colts owner Jim Irsay used Twitter on Monday to clarify comments he reportedly made during a private breakfast with Super Bowl donors in Indianapolis, comments that seemed to indicate Indy's franchise quarterback would miss the rest of the season.

''I didn't say Peyton out 4season FOR SURE,keeping him on ActiveRoster n taking it month by month/Outside chance of return n December possible,'' Irsay wrote.

Indy's final regular-season game is Jan. 1.

But Irsay's latest tweet indicates nothing has changed. He was expected to miss at least two months after having neck surgery Sept. 8 and possibly more, which could cost the four-time league MVP the entire season.

Manning has missed all three games this season after making 227 consecutive starts including the playoffs, and the Colts are off to their first 0-3 start since 1998, Manning's rookie season.

Manning was seen at Colts practices last week and spent Sunday night's game in the coaches' booth.

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''He's a resource for us. He's been around this system for a long time, and I don't think you're very smart if you don't use it,'' coach Jim Caldwell said. ''We don't care whose idea it is. We use everything we possibly can.''

The Colts have not discussed Manning's recovery in detail. Manning originally had surgery May 23 to repair a damaged nerve that was causing weakness in his throwing arm, and when that didn't work as anticipated, Manning had an anterior spinal fusion. The procedure normally involves making an incision in the front of the neck, removing soft disk tissue between the vertebrae and fusing the bones together with a graft. The goal is to ease pain or address a disk problem.

It was Manning's third neck surgery in 19 months.

The Colts brought Kerry Collins out of retirement to replace Manning in the starting lineup but he has struggled and left the Steelers game to be evaluated for a possible concussion.

Curtis Painter took over in the fourth quarter and took the Colts 80 yards for their most meaningful offensive touchdown of the season, a 6-yard run from Joseph Addai. Painter went 5 of 11 for 60 yards with a 62.7 rating.

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The poor start by Collins has led to speculation that the Colts might try to find another veteran to step in - maybe former Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard or retired Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer.

Garrard's agent told The Associated Press in an e-mail that the Colts have not contacted him.

Some fed-up fans have even suggested the Colts tank the season so they can draft Manning's eventual heir in April. They're hoping to get Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Caldwell isn't thinking that way.

He'd rather start winning games and get Manning back as soon as possible.

''The only thing I know is what was stated on Sept. 8 when we released the last statement,'' Caldwell said. ''I think that stands, and I think our owner clarified his position with his last tweet. He (Manning) is still rehabbing and coming along and we'll see how it goes.''

Tagged: Colts, Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins

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