The Colts will have to win their last two games the same way they tried to win their first 14 -- without Peyton Manning.
Minutes after the previously winless Colts got their first win, 27-13 over Tennessee, team vice chairman Bill Polian said the four-time league MVP will not play this season though he has begun throwing to teammates at the team complex.
The comments came in a rare, five-paragraph postgame statement Polian made from the podium. He did not take questions.
"It was determined by the doctors that there was no chance he (Manning) would play this year," Polian said, referring to a Thursday meeting. "His rehabilitation has not come far enough to make it prudent for him to step on the field in game action. He may practice in some very scripted and circumscribed circumstances if he wishes. That's entirely up to him."
Apparently, Manning is already doing that.
Polian confirmed that the four-time league MVP threw in pads and a helmet after Wednesday's full practice ended. The session included running back Joseph Addai, center Jeff Saturday, receiver Anthony Gonzalez and a receiver from the practice squad.
There were rumors all week that Manning had started throwing with teammates, but players and coaches repeatedly said there was nothing new in Manning's workout regimen. On Sunday's pregame show, Fox Sports reported that Manning had thrown to receivers and running backs this week and that Manning still hoped to play this season.
He has practiced sparingly since having neck surgery in May. The Colts thought Manning would be ready to play when training camp opened and again when the regular-season started, but the recovery took far longer than expected. He was activated before the regular-season opener, but with the compressed nerve still causing weakness in Manning's throwing arm, he opted for a more invasive fusion. That surgery took place Sept. 8.
On Dec. 1, doctors announced the fusion had healed firmly and that Manning could increase the intensity and length of his workouts.
"Wednesday, after we finished our full team practice, Peyton went through a prescribed rehabilitation session, which consisted of about 30 throws and seven or eight handoffs," Polian said. "His throws were scripted at his request, meaning that he made specific throws with respect to the kinds of plays he would run in a ballgame. The reason for that is because the strength and conditioning folks and the therapy folks felt that was the best way to ramp up the muscle use."
Polian denied breaking any league rules by not disclosing Manning's workouts on the weekly practice reports, which require teams to provide information about each player's participation.
Because the workouts occurred after practice, Polian said the team did not violate the league rules and that the team taped that workout, which was attended by Polian and coach Jim Caldwell.
Team officials have kept Manning on the active roster in hopes that he could practice in December.
Polian said he does not expect Manning to throw again before Thursday's home finale against Houston.