All signs pointing to the return of Manning

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning watches from the sidelines the club's preseason game against the...

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning watches from the sidelines the club's preseason game against the Redskins in Indianapolis, Ind., Aug. 19, 2011. (BRENT SMITH/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:23 AM ET

TORONTO - It’s looking more and more like Peyton Manning is going to try to put his surgically repaired neck on the line when the Colts go to Houston to face the Texans in the season opener.

On Monday, the Colts activated Manning from the “physically unable to perform” (PUP) list and he’s now going to start limited practices with his teammates.

The Colts have one more pre-season game this Thursday in Cincinnati before they start the season on Sept. 11.

There is no intent for Manning to play Thursday, so his first real football action of the season, if all goes well in workouts, will be when the shooting starts for real.

“This was one of my goals all along, to be back before the last pre-season game,” Manning told reporters.

“That gives you two weeks on the field to answer the questions coach (Jim) Caldwell has and I have.”

Brett Favre holds the NFL record for consecutive games started at quarterback with 297 (321 if you count playoff games) and Manning is second on that list with 221 consecutive games, including playoffs.

Manning said he was healthy enough to take a snap or play a series or two to keep the streak alive, but that’s not what he intends to do.

“I have to be able to play competitively to play because I have too much respect for this game,” he said.

“I have to do what’s fair for the team.”

Removal from the PUP list does not necessarily mean Manning is going to play next week. League rules state that anyone on the PUP list must be activated by Sept. 3 or they must sit out six weeks.

Manning will be definitely ready in that time frame, but the opener is still up in the air.

If Manning is unable to start the season, it’s likely that backup Curtis Painter will get the call. The Colts recently signed Kerry Collins as insurance but Painter made a strong case throwing for 171 yards and two TDs Friday night against Green Bay.

Pro-Bowler Gurode cut

The Cowboys cut ties with Pro-Bowl centre Andre Gurode Monday in a move motivated by salary-cap issues. In a training camp that has seen an overhaul of the Cowboys’ offensive line, only left tackle Doug Free remains in the same spot as last season.

“These are the decisions made around the league ... really every year,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told the Dallas Morning News.

“And they’re hard decisions to make — guys who have been so good for you for so long and you have to move on to the next guy, the younger guy.”

Gurode, 32, was scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2011 and was signed through 2012.

He started 122 games nine seasons, moving from guard to centre in 2006. By cutting him now, Dallas is able to save $5.5 million on the 2011 salary cap.

Phil Costa will take over as the Cowboys’ starting centre, even though he’s battling a knee injury that kept him out of recent pre-season games.

Earlier in training camp, the Cowboys cut right guard Leonard Davis and right tackle Marc Colombo, both veterans.

“Last year, we spent more money on our team than anybody in the NFL,” team owner Jerry Jones told KRLD radio station. “I thought we had a team could contend. I think we’ve got a team (this year) that might do what we thought that one was going to do last year.”

Quick kicks

With the release of place-kicker Dave Rayner, the Lions have decided to go back to tried-and-true kicker Jason Hanson, who missed half of the 2010 seasion with a knee injury. ... Saints QB Drew Brees looks ready for the regular season. He tore the Raiders apart on Sunday night, passing for 189 yards in less than a half, going 6-for-8 in third-down conversions. ... NFL rushing champ Chris Johnson has been placed on the “did not report” list by the Titans as he tries to work out a new deal with the club. Johnson, who is to make $800,000 this year, is holding out for a long-term contract with $30-million guaranteed and has gone home to Florida. ... Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon will each get to audition for the Steelers No. 2 QB job which came open when Byron Leftwich broke his arm on the weekend. ... Bengals RB Cedric Benson will spend his team’s late-October bye week in jail for an assault conviction. Benson was sentenced to 20 days but will get out in seven days for good behavior.

Lovie Smith: The Great Communicator

Concerned that he did not get to play in Chicago’s most recent pre-season game, RB Chester Taylor sought out head coach Lovie Smith for an explanation.

When the conversation was over, Taylor was so convinced that he had been cut by the Bears that he left Halas Hall (the team training site), telling teammates he had been released.

“I guess there was a little bit of a misunderstanding on what we talked about,” Smith told reporters after practice, via the Chicago Tribune.

“Chester Taylor is still a part of the team.

“We expect for Chester to be here (Tuesday) for practice and some of our other players, hopefully, who have been injured.”

Taylor said Smith told him he was not in their plans but Smith said later that he meant “not in the plans for that game.”

Smith was perplexed.

“Thought we had a good conversation,” he said.

“I guess it didn’t go exactly like I thought it did.”


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