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Manning still aims to play Week 1

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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It's not regular season yet, but Week 3 in preseason is as close as it gets. Photos

Peyton Manning’s streak of 227 consecutive NFL starts (including playoffs) may not be ending after all.

Despite still being sidelined by offseason neck surgery, Manning said Friday night that he is optimistic about being back under center for the September 11 regular-season opener at Houston.

“I sure hope so,” Manning said on the sideline during the CBS telecast of the Indianapolis-Green Bay preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium. “I’ve never missed a game in my entire (NFL) career because of injury. I sure don’t want to start in Week 1 of this season.

“My goal is to play — not just play but play competitively. I want to help the team win. If I’m able to do so, I’ll be out there.”

Manning said he would consult with team doctors and head coach Jim Caldwell before making a final decision.

In his postgame news conference, Caldwell was asked whether he was certain Manning would be activated off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list before the team was forced to trim its roster to 53 players on Sept. 3.

“I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent certain, but I would say it’s a realistic possibility and it could happen shortly,” Caldwell said.

Manning is participating in a rigorous rehabilitation program after undergoing surgery in late May for a bulging disc.

At the time, Colts owner Jim Irsay said Manning was expected to recover in time for the start of training camp. But Manning’s recovery has taken longer than expected, which he blames on being unable to work with the team’s medical staff until the NFL player lockout was lifted in late July.

“I’m right in the middle of it,” Manning said of his rehab. “I’ve been working very hard every single day . . . I have some more left to do.

“I still have some time. I’m going to use that time. At the appropriate time, I think I’ll know what the right decision is.”

Colts general manager Chris Polian echoed Manning’s uncertainty during a pregame interview.

“We’ve still got a couple weeks to get ready,” Polian told FOXSports.com. “Hopefully, he is ready. Certainly, everybody is hoping for that. But we don’t know that at this point. We know he’s not going to play in the preseason.”

Curtis Painter has started all three of Indianapolis’ preseason games. The Colts, though, lured 17-year NFL veteran Kerry Collins out of retirement Wednesday to start in case Manning wasn’t ready to play against Houston and beyond. Colts vice chairman Bill Polian has said Collins would start against the Texans if Manning wasn’t available.

Collins was in uniform against Green Bay but didn’t play in the first half. He is expected to start Thursday’s preseason finale in Cincinnati.

Painter threw two first-half touchdown passes against the Packers, but also lost a fumble on a third-quarter sack. Painter was 11 of 21 passing for 171 yards before being replaced by Dan Orlovsky.

Tagged: Colts, Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter

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