INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning will not participate in Colts practices the rest of the season.
Two days after the four-time league MVP was ruled out of the Colts' final two games, coach Jim Caldwell said Tuesday that Manning won't practice with the team before the season-finale Jan. 1, either.
The reason is simple: Indianapolis doesn't want to take away practice snaps from Dan Orlovsky or Curtis Painter with the Colts (1-13) hosting AFC South champion Houston (10-4) in their home finale Thursday night.
Caldwell said he also believes Manning will be better off recovering from his latest neck surgery through individual work.
Team vice chairman Bill Polian acknowledged Manning will fail his postseason physical, a move that will actually give the Colts more time to monitor Manning's progression. Colts officials say it is not a setback, and, in fact, Polian said Manning threw with decent velocity from 20 to 25 yards last week.
"He has to meet objective measurements set by the doctors and the rehab people with respect to arm strength, with respect to triceps strength and that will be evidenced by throwing and other objective measurements," Polian said.
It's still unclear when Manning might be 100 percent.
"I do not know," Polian said. "I've said since September, and I've quoted the doctors, all of the doctors we've spoken to, that there's no potion, there's no surgery, there's no manipulation, there's no machine that can tell you what the timetable for regeneration of a nerve will be."
Caldwell, Polian and team owner Jim Irsay do need to see some things before March 8, when the Colts must determine whether to pay out a $28 million bonus to keep Manning or let him become a free agent. Irsay also has acknowledged there's a third option, redoing the five-year, $90 million contract Manning signed in July.
Another complication is the likelihood Indy winds up with the No. 1 overall draft pick for the first time since 1998 when they selected Manning. Most believe Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will go in that slot, and there has been plenty of debate about whether the two high-profile quarterbacks can exist on the same team and whether the Colts can be competitive if both players come at a hefty price.
Manning has not participated in a team workout since having a single-level fusion procedure on Sept. 8, the third and most invasive of his neck surgeries over a 19-month span. The procedure was intended to fix a damaged nerve that was causing weakness in Manning's right throwing arm.
The perennial Pro Bowler has not spoken with reporters since Dec. 2, the day after he was cleared to increase the intensity of his workouts.
Last Wednesday, Caldwell and Polian both watched Manning take snaps from Jeff Saturday and throw to Joseph Addai, Anthony Gonzalez and an unidentified receiver from the practice squad during a post-practice workout. Manning is expected to do that kind of work over the next two weeks.
When Manning fails the physical, it will actually help the Colts. The new collective bargaining agreement allows injured players to continue rehabbing with other injured players at the team facility, giving Manning more time to throw and team officials more time to evaluate his health.
By then, the Colts figure they'll have all the information they need.
"He's rehabbing," Caldwell said. "He's getting better. He's improving."