General manager Jerry Reese said Thursday that Manning's left ankle surgery will keep him ''out of spring ball,'' and that the team will not rush back its starting quarterback.
Manning's primary backup last year, Curtis Painter, recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and is out for about a month. He could be back for the team's minicamp in June.
Reese expects heavy competition for the backup quarterback job among Painter, last year's draft pick Ryan Nassib, and Josh Freeman, signed in April as a free agent. Reese also expects Manning to bounce back from a poor season in which led the NFL with 27 interceptions.