CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 1: Indianapolis Colts injured quarterback Peyton Manning looks on from the sideline during the first half of an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 1, 2011 in …
INDIANAPOLIS - Colts owner Jim Irsay says there is an "outside chance" Peyton Manning might return in December.
Irsay used Twitter on Monday to update Colts fans on Manning's status after remarks he made during a private breakfast with Super Bowl donors.
Team spokesman Avis Roper says Manning's status has not changed and the franchise quarterback has not been placed on season-ending injured reserve.
A few minutes later, Irsay wrote this: "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." The final regular-season game is Jan. 1.
Manning has missed all three games this season after his third neck surgery in 19 months, and the Colts are off to an 0-3 start without the league's four-time MVP.
Manning has been at Colts practices and was in the coaches' box during Sunday night's loss to Pittsburgh. He had started 227 consecutive games, including the playoffs, before missing the season-opener.
Manning had neck surgery Sept. 8. The Colts have not discussed his recovery in detail, but he was expected to miss at least two months after having an anterior fusion to treat a nerve injury that was causing weakness in his triceps. 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.
Some doctors have said the recovery can take four months or longer, which could keep Manning out all season.
Manning also had surgery May 23, but that did not fix the problem.
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.
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.
A fed-up few 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.
Copyright Associated Press