INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning is ready to practice with his teammates. He's still not sure when he'll dress for a game.
On Monday, less than two hours after being activated from the physically unable to perform list, Manning told reporters it was the next step in his recovery from neck surgery in May. He would not provide details about what issues must be resolved before the Sept. 11 season-opener at Houston.
"I don't know what HIPAA stands for, but I believe in it and I practice it," Manning joked, referring to the federal law protecting medical privacy. "So, uh, I'll leave it at that."
The team said Manning will practice on a "scripted" and controlled basis with teammates this week. He is not expected to play in Thursday night's preseason finale at Cincinnati and he reiterated that point Monday.
And it's unclear the extent of what Manning's new workout regimen will be.
"He's been throwing," coach Jim Caldwell said. "It's going to be a bigger amount, and I don't think it needs a whole lot of explanation. The statement speaks for itself."
Team officials have said Manning would practice only when he was cleared by the doctors and when Manning felt comfortable working out. The four-time MVP missed all of training camp at Anderson University, the second time in four seasons that's happened.
When Manning sat out in 2008 after having two surgeries to remove an infected bursa sac in his left knee, was not seen by reporters. This time, after his second surgery in 15 months, he was seen running and throwing passes.
Manning remembered returning to practice just before the final 2008 preseason game, though he did not play against the Bengals that year.
"This was one of my goals all along, to be back before the last preseason game," Manning said. "That gives you two weeks on the field to answer the questions coach Caldwell has and I have."
Manning has started 227 consecutive games, including the playoffs, the second-longest streak in NFL history for quarterbacks behind Brett Favre. He said Monday 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."
Three years ago, Manning returned from the knee injury and struggled during the first half of the season. By midseason, Manning was back to his regular form and went on to win his third MVP award.
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.
All three backups could be vying for snaps at practice, and the Colts may have to play their starters longer than usual against the Bengals to get Collins and Painter in sync with their teammates.
"It's an important week because it's one thing to know it in the classroom, and it's another thing to go out and know it on the field," Collins said.
Manning has thrown for 54,828 yards, third all-time behind Favre and Dan Marino. He's also third all-time in career TD passes (399), trailing only Marino (420) and Favre (508) and has led Indianapolis to a record-tying nine consecutive playoff appearances.