Julio Cortez, Associated Press
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning enters the practice field after leaving momentarily during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. Manning missed part of the practice session with a stomach illness. The Giants travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers in the NFC championship game.
It's not the first practice I have missed over the years. When coach feels its best that you do other things to get yourself ready, that's what you do, and you still use all that time very wisely. —New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tough luck, Frisco fans. Eli Manning's tummy is just fine.

The New York Giants quarterback was back at practice Thursday after missing part of the previous day's workout with "a stomach bug."

"I'm 100 percent," Manning said after practicing for Sunday's NFC title game against the 49ers in San Francisco. "I had a full practice today, did everything, took every rep. I feel good."

Manning felt sick after waking up Wednesday. He "toughed it out" and attended team meetings and took part in the walk-through portions of practice before letting backup David Carr handle the live snaps.

"It wasn't going well so I tried to be smart," said Manning, who received intravenous fluids after leaving practice Wednesday. "It was fortunate it happened on a Wednesday and not later in the week."

Manning texted coach Tom Coughlin late Wednesday evening and told him he was feeling better.

"When he got to work today, he had a nice breakfast and seemed to do fine," Coughlin said. "He is not quite himself, but almost."

There was almost no chance Manning would miss the game because of a stomach virus. After all, his streak of 128 straight starts, including playoffs, is tops in the NFL.

A shoulder injury in 2007 didn't sideline him and a foot injury two years later couldn't keep him off the field.

BRADY RETURNS TO PRACTICE: Tom Brady is back practicing. Everyone associated with the New England Patriots is acting like he never missed a snap.

Brady returned to the field Thursday after being out the previous day resting his left, non-throwing shoulder. If it's a big deal to the football world that the Patriots' star quarterback briefly was sidelined four days before the AFC championship, his teammates and coach treated it as an inconsequential blip.

So did the two-time league MVP.

"It's not the first practice I have missed over the years," Brady said with a shrug of his shoulders — including the sore left one. "When coach feels its best that you do other things to get yourself ready, that's what you do, and you still use all that time very wisely. When your coach feels it is best to do other things to get yourself ready, that is what you do."

Coach Bill Belichick revealed little about Brady's absence on Wednesday, lumping it in with every other player in the NFL who gets nicked. Then again, Belichick doesn't give out much information or insight on anything injury-related. Ever.

COLTS OUST 8 ASSISTANTS: One horribly bad season has pressed the Colts into major shake-up mode.

Two weeks after cleaning out the front office and two days after firing coach Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis announced most of Caldwell's assistants are out of work, too.

Among the eight assistant coaches let go Thursday were defensive line coach John Teerlinck and his son, Bill; Frank Reich, the onetime quarterbacks coach who coached the receivers this season, and longtime conditioning coach Jon Torine. Linebackers coach Mike Murphy, who served on the staffs of Jim Mora, Tony Dungy and Caldwell and was promoted to defensive coordinator in late November, decided to retire after 27 seasons on the NFL sideline.

That's not all.

Defensive backs coach Alvin Williams is leaving the Colts after 10 seasons to become the Minnesota Vikings' defensive coordinator.

All this came despite the midseason firing of defensive coordinator Larry Coyer and the postseason firing of special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski, Caldwell's first two hires.

That leaves only nine of 20 coaches who started the season still on Indy's staff, and their fates may not be determined until the Colts hire a new head coach. The most notable holdover is offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. Team vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian were both fired the day after Indy finished a 2-14 season, its worst in two decades.

This is the biggest overhaul Indy has had in Peyton Manning's 14-year career.

Team owner Jim Irsay hasn't made this many changes since 1997 when he fired the general manager and coach the day after the season ended, then got rid of quarterback Jim Harbaugh so they could take Manning with the No. 1 overall pick in that draft.

Could it happen again? Yes.

With Manning, the Colts won an NFL-record 115 regular-season games during the previous decade and tied the league record for consecutive playoff appearances with nine.

But with Manning having neck surgery in September, the third on his neck in 19 months, and missing the entire season, the Colts collapsed.

They lost their first 13 games behind three different quarterbacks, then won twice in five days and nearly lost the right to the No. 1 overall draft pick. But a season-ending loss at Jacksonville clinched the top draft spot, which most expect Indianapolis to use on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

If they take Luck, Irsay could elect not to pay Manning a $28 million bonus and let him walk away as a free agent. Or he could retire.

New GM Ryan Grigson said earlier this week that he hadn't yet spoken with Manning and that the medical details would likely dictate Manning's future. Irsay has said he will pay Manning if he's healthy enough to play.

The other coaches let go Thursday were assistant Devin Fitzsimmons, offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars, special assistant to the defense Rod Perry, and quarterbacks coach Ron Turner.

Indy has reportedly sought permission to speak with Tennessee defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

A decision on the new head coach isn't likely to come until next week.

FORTE CLEARED FOR PRO BOWL: The Chicago Bears say running back Matt Forte is cleared to play in the Pro Bowl after passing a physical.

Forte sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee early in a loss to Kansas City on Dec. 4 and sat out the rest of the season.

He still got selected to his first Pro Bowl, finishing with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing in his fourth season. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and figures to be in for a big raise, with his rookie contract expiring.

Forte came into the season looking for an extension, but did not reach an agreement with the Bears.

SPAGNUOLO TO SAINTS?: A person familiar with the decision says former St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo has agreed to take over as defensive coordinator for with the Saints.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity because the Saints have not announced the hiring.

The 52-year-old Spagnuolo was head coach in St. Louis the past three seasons and was fired in January after going 10-38 with the Rams. Before that he was defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, a stint that included a Super Bowl upset of the New England Patriots.

Gregg Williams, who was New Orleans' defensive coordinator the past three seasons, has joined Jeff Fisher's staff in St. Louis.

Spagnuolo's Rams was one of three teams to beat New Orleans during the regular season.

DAWKINS ADDED TO PRO BOWL ROSTER: Denver Broncos strong safety Brian Dawkins has been added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster, although it's uncertain if he'll be able to play because of a neck injury.

Dawkins missed most of the last month and both of Denver's playoff games. He has said he'll consult with his family before deciding whether to return in 2012 for a 17th NFL season, which would be a record for safeties.

Dawkins was having a resurgent season under first-year defensive coordinator Dennis Allen when he got hurt in a game against Chicago.

He replaces safety Troy Polamalu (neck) on the roster for the Jan. 29 all-star game. This is Dawkins' ninth Pro Bowl selection and he's the sixth Broncos player chosen to play in this year's Pro Bowl, the team's best representation since 2001.

JAGUARS HIRE ASSISTANTS: New Jacksonville Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey is close to completing his staff.

Mularkey hired former Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Greg Olson as quarterbacks coach and former New Orleans secondary coach Tony Oden to the same position Thursday. The moves leave the Jaguars with just a few open spots, including running backs coach, receivers coach and special teams coordinator.

The team interviewed former Illinois and Florida head coach Ron Zook for the special teams opening Wednesday and former St. Louis Rams running backs coach Sylvester Croom for the same position.

Olson is entering his 11th season in the NFL. He spent the last four years in Tampa, one as quarterbacks coach and three as offensive coordinator. He also served as offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions in 2005 and St. Louis Rams in 2006-07.

Championship Sunday


Ravens at Patriots

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: CBS Radio: 1320 AM


Giants at 49ers

Sunday, 4:30 p.m.

TV: FOX Radio: 1320 AM