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Manning to sit out opener, ending ironman streak

Associated Press / September 8, 2011

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Peyton Manning’s streak is over.

The Colts quarterback will not play Sunday in the season opener at Houston, bringing an end to his streak of 227 consecutive starts, including the playoffs. The team said 38-year-old Kerry Collins will start against the Texans as Manning continues his long recovery from neck surgery in May.

“It’s going to be a little different without Peyton,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s one of a kind. When you look across our league, most teams have had quarterbacks that have missed time. Ours has just been highly unusual.’’

The streak is the second longest among NFL quarterbacks behind only Brett Favre, whose 297-game run ended last season just before he called it a career.

Collins, who was brought out of retirement just two weeks ago to run the Colts’ pass-heavy offense, has been preparing as though he would start.

“I expect to run the offense, bottom line,’’ he said. “Make plays when they’re there, be smart with the ball, make good reads, good decisions, get us into the right plays when the situation calls for it.’’

Manning had been listed as doubtful for the game. Not only has the four-time NFL MVP never missed a start, he’s rarely missed practice.

Manning had neck surgery to repair a nerve May 23, but the recovery has taken much longer than the expected 6-8 weeks that would have put him back on the field for the start of training camp. Instead, he started camp on the physically unable to perform list and wasn’t activated until last Monday.

“To say I am disappointed in not being able to play is an understatement,’’ Manning said in a statement released by the team. “The best part about football is being out there on the field playing with my teammates. It will be tough not to be out there playing for the organization and our fans. I simply am not healthy enough to play, and I am doing everything I can to get my health back.’’

At least the streak for most consecutive starts among active quarterbacks is going to stay in the family. Eli Manning of the Giants has started 110 in a row.

Texans’ Foster iffy Texans coach Gary Kubiak said running back Arian Foster’s status is uncertain for Houston’s opener against Indianapolis because of a left hamstring injury.

Foster, the 2010 NFL rushing champion, hurt his hamstring early in training camp, then aggravated it in an exhibition game Aug. 27. He’s been limited in practice since, and said yesterday he may not know until just before kickoff if he’ll be ready to go. Kubiak said Foster will play if he can get to “full speed’’ by Sunday.

“We want him to play,’’ Kubiak said. “We need to be at our best to win a football game, but at the same time, we’ve got to listen to what’s going on. As I said all along, the progress has been very good and I know there was more progress [yesterday], so maybe this conversation is different tomorrow. I don’t know. We’ll see.’’

Foster said he ran nearly full speed and was able to make cuts in his individual workout.

“You kind of know your body,’’ Foster said. “When it comes to hamstrings, you have to listen to your body. It talks to you. I ran on it and it felt good. You don’t want to push it too fast, too soon.

“This is a 16-game season, and you don’t want to rush back for Game 1 if you’re not ready. I plan on being ready. But if it’s not ready, it’s not ready.’’

Scifres extended Punter Mike Scifres agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep him with the Chargers through 2016. Scifres has been with San Diego since 2003, when he was a fifth-round draft pick. He has consistently been one of the NFL’s best punters and was a Pro Bowl alternate from 2004-09 . . . Matt Forte said he’s “surprised’’ and “disappointed’’ he wasn’t able to get a new deal from the Bears. The running back will go into the fourth and final year of his rookie contract waiting for the big payday he was seeking. General manager Jerry Angelo said this week that both sides agreed to table the talks for now, although he wasn’t slamming the door on an agreement being reached by the end of the year . . . The Bears signed fullback Tyler Clutts off the Browns practice squad and gave him a three-year contract . . . Redskins safety LaRon Landry has a pulled hamstring and doesn’t expect to play in Sunday’s opener against the Giants. Landry is uncertain when he’ll return.

Change of plans President Barack Obama’s speech tonight has forced NFL pregame shows for the Saints-Packers matchup to be moved to other TV outlets. The kickoff show originally scheduled to air on NBC at 7 p.m. EDT will now be shown on Versus, USA, Syfy, and G4, all NBC Universal cable stations. It will be joined in progress on NBC when the speech has concluded, with the four other stations resuming regularly scheduled programming. NFL Network will carry the kickoff show in its entirety. The President’s speech is not expected to conflict with the game, which kicks off at 8:30.

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