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NFL notebook

Manning prepping with Colts, but not to play

Injured Colts QB Peyton Manning took some post-practice snaps last week, but he hasn’t been cleared for game action. Injured Colts QB Peyton Manning took some post-practice snaps last week, but he hasn’t been cleared for game action. (Brent Smith/Reuters)
Associated Press / December 19, 2011
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Colts vice chairman Bill Polian said Peyton Manning will not play in the final two games, but the franchise quarterback did take snaps last week.

Polian made a rare postgame podium appearance yesterday after Fox Sports reported Manning had been throwing with running backs and receivers during the week and that the quarterback still hoped to play this year. The Colts were winless without the four-time NFL MVP until beating the Titans, 27-13.

Polian confirmed that Manning 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. On Thursday, Polian said team doctors told him Manning’s recovery had not progressed enough to warrant a return to game action.

“His rehabilitation has not come far enough to make it prudent for him to step on the field in game action,’’ Polian said. “He may practice in some very scripted and circumscribed circumstances if he wishes. That’s entirely up to him.’’

Manning has practiced sparingly since having neck surgery in May and has not played since having a second surgery Sept. 8.

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 rules.

Head hits on agenda

The NFL is expected to look at expanding the ban on launching and helmet hits.

Falcons president Rich McKay, the co-chairman of the league’s competition committee, believes it will be a topic for his group during the offseason, and changes could be presented to the owners next spring.

“I think the launch will be discussed more and more and eventually we will see helmet hits modified in the open field,’’ McKay said.

The competition committee recommends rules changes to the owners, who then vote on them at the annual March meetings. McKay’s committee was influential in getting outlawed the technique of launching - when a player leaves his feet and leads with his head - against defenseless players.

McKay says the idea of potentially banning launching altogether was discussed last year.

Flagrant helmet hits have been a high-profile topic all season since the league banned launching in March. Such tackles are subject to fines, ejections, and suspensions.

McKay emphasized that Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy Dec. 8 is not the catalyst for further discussions. Harrison became the first player suspended for such a hit.

Power struggle?

Bills coach Chan Gailey denied a report that assistant coach Dave Wannstedt was calling defensive plays yesterday against Miami instead of coordinator George Edwards. During the Bills’ 30-23 loss, Buffalo’s WGRF-Radio - the team’s broadcaster - reported Wannstedt was more involved in the play-calling duties . . . Panthers tight end Jeremy Shockey criticized members of the Texans for not putting their hands over their hearts during yesterday’s national anthem in Houston. Shockey said he saw “about 10 players’’ who didn’t do the traditional gesture when the anthem was played, and he told some of them how he felt during Carolina’s 28-13 victory. “This is America and you should at least give respect to America,’’ said Shockey. “Maybe they just forgot to do it or something, but I don’t see how you could forget to do that.’’

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