INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Colts activated Peyton Manning from the physically unable to perform list Monday, clearing the way for the four-time MVP to play early in the season.
The team said Manning will participate in practice on a limited basis on a "scripted" and controlled basis as he continues to recover from neck surgery in May.
It's not clear whether Manning will be ready for the Sept. 11 opener at Houston. Manning has already ruled himself out of Thursday night's preseason finale at Cincinnati.
Manning has started 227 consecutive games, including the playoffs, the second-longest streak in NFL history for quarterbacks behind Brett Favre.
Indy's franchise quarterback had been on PUP since practice began Aug. 1. League rules require players on the physically unable to perform list to be activated by the team's final cuts, on Sept. 3, or sit out an additional six weeks. That wasn't something the Colts were going to do.
The surgery was expected to keep Manning off the field for six to eight weeks. But the recovery has gone slower than expected, and Manning in part blamed the 4 1/2-month lockout that kept him away from the team's trainers.
With Manning ailing, the Colts have been refining backup plans. They signed veteran backup Kerry Collins to go along with Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and rookie Mike Hartline. Five-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne said he believes Painter gives Indy the best chance at winning if Manning is not ready to start the season.
Painter made his statement Friday by going 11 of 21 for 171 yards with two TD passes, and nearly led the Colts to their first preseason win in more than two years.