Manning remains on the Colts' active roster while he recovers from neck surgery, and the team's ambiguous stance on his possible return this season -- essentially that there's an outside chance -- leaves little room for certainty.
In the meantime, Manning has turned into a high-paid advisor (he signed a five-year, $90 million contract in July) for the team. In his new role, Manning spent last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the coaches' booth.
"It's really not any different than what he normally does," Colts coach Jim Caldwell said Saturday. "When he's playing or when he's not playing, he's always kind of analyzing and taking a look at things. I know Clyde (Christensen) has been back and forth with him, and just kind of getting a feel for things and talking with him about what he sees."
Caldwell told reporters that doctors haven't cleared Manning to be on the sideline during a game, so he'll remain up in the box unless that changes. On Monday night, Manning will have his eyes trained on Curtis Painter, who's scheduled to make his first NFL start.
Clearly, Manning is too valuable not to have input, even when he's not on the field. He's the closest version in recent memory to a player-coach.
"He's been around for so long, he knows the system extremely well, and he has good insight," Caldwell said. "It's like he says, he feels that he still wants to be able to contribute and still be able to certainly help out. He's doing that."